Concept Art Spektr-R. Image: © Astrocosmic Center of the Physical Institute named after
Russia lost control of its Spectr-R satellite, which carries the only space telescope in the world.
While Spektr-R still transmits scientific information and orbits normally, it has stopped responding to mission teams in Russia on the same day, BBC reported.
Yuriy Kovalev, head of the Spectrum-R mission research department, told the Russian news agency TASS that a malfunction occurred when the signal from the ground did not turn on the transmitter. It is not clear what caused the failure, but TASS reported on Monday that one of the speculative explanations might be damage to cosmic radiation in the electronic system of the spacecraft.
The fact that the satellite still sends a message about its activity indicates that the scientific useful load and operations did not affect the communication fault.
"This means that our satellite is alive, that it has power on board, scientific equipment continues to work, and there is another point in trying to establish contact with him," Kovalev said. Efforts to communicate with spacecraft continued on Monday.
Released in July 2011, the Spektr-R is equipped with 10-meter radio antennas intended for radio frequency selections in the Milky Way and beyond.
Details: The chief of Russian cosmonauts offers the leak of the International Space Station may be sabotage
As part of the international program RadioAstron with headquarters in Moscow, the satellite allowed scientists to study exotic objects such as quasars and black holes, located billions of light years from Earth. Since the elliptical orbit of the spacecraft takes about 300,000 kilometers from terrestrial radio telescopes on our planet, it can help create extremely high-quality images.
The mission was expected to last for about ninety years, so it exceeded the projected life expectancy. Although this will fail, if contact with the satellite is finally lost, Russia plans to connect with German scientists to launch a satellite heir called Spektr RG later in 2019.
Get six of our favorite motherboard stories every day subscribing to our newsletter.