Category: Russia

India to take second moon shot by 2012, eyes Mars

India to take second moon shot by 2012, eyes Mars

Buoyed by the success of its maiden lunar mission, India on Thursday said it will send a second unmanned spacecraft to the moon by 2012.
The announcement came less than a week after Chandrayaan-1, India’s first unmanned spacecraft, entered lunar orbit for the start of a two-year mission.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the second spacecraft would also place a probe on the moon’s surface.

“Chandrayaan-II will be launched by 2012,” ISRO chairman Madavan Nair told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar in the southern Indian city of Chennai.

“We will have a lander that will drop a small robot on the moon, which will pick samples, analyse data and send the data back,” the Press Trust of India quoted Nair as saying.

He said Chandrayaan-1 will on Friday drop a probe, painted in India’s national colours, on the moon.

“Already 95 percent of the mission has been completed. The total success of the mission would be known only after the remaining work is completed,” he said.

During its mission, Chandrayaan-1 will provide a detailed map of the mineral, chemical and topographical characteristics of the moon’s surface.

India hopes the lunar missions will boost its space programme into the same league as regional powerhouses Japan and China.

“We cannot be lagging behind in terms of our capability to access space. China, the US and Japan are going ahead with huge plans for space,” the ISRO chairman said.

Nair also dismissed criticism the 80-million dollar Chandrayaan-1 project was beyond ISRO’s budget and said the agency would use the infrastructure created for the lunar mission for more ambitious programmes.

“Most of the expenses have gone to create infrastructural facilities, which will be used for our plans to send satellites to Mars and Venus,” Nair said, adding the organisation would also launch a satellite to solar emissions.

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Military Space Race , Again?!

Military Space Race , Again?!

The Americans seem determined to flood outer space with weapons. In early April U.S. Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Henry Obering again called for the early deployment of space-based missile defense systems, a universal means of hitting either ground or space targets.

His Russian counterpart and longtime opponent on this issue, Space Forces Commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, responded in late May, warning for the umpteenth time: “We are against any deployment or placement of weapons in outer space, as it is one of the few realms where frontiers do not exist. Militarization of outer space will disrupt the current balance in the world.”

The Russian general is seriously worried that space-based attack weapons could increase the risk of igniting hostilities on the ground.

Putting the long-distance dispute between the two generals aside, let us recall that the defensive doctrines of most industrialized countries are space-oriented. Satellite systems are involved in every aspect of an industrialized country’s activity, warfare included. The majority of modern weapon systems, both nuclear and conventional, include space-based components.

Russia is behind the United States in development and deployment of space-based systems. The figures are far from encouraging. A total of around 500 American and 100 Russian satellites currently are orbiting the Earth. The U.S. military satellite fleet is more than four times the size of Russia’s, and some of the orbiting Russian satellites are inoperable.

The Americans also have the Navstar Global Positioning System, which has been working successfully already several years. Russia’s equivalent, the widely publicized GLONASS, is undergoing its initial deployment, with only 12 operable satellites presently in orbit, compared with 31 American ones.

Obviously the Pentagon can afford to speak of space-based weapons deployment, possessing such impressive assets.

Now back to Col. Gen. Popovkin’s idea that space-based weapons could spark a war. He says that present space systems and complexes are very sophisticated and susceptible to failures, and “in such cases, I cannot guarantee that a failure was not caused by hostile action.”

Is this statement logical? Surely it is. Strategic nuclear stability — that is to say, a high-degree guarantee against a surprise nuclear missile strike — depends on the trouble-free operation of early warning and intelligence satellites. If a satellite fails with another country’s attack weapons deployed in orbit, there will be an increase of mistrust, which could lead to a military disaster.

Besides, it is well known that tests involving satellite destruction result in a growing amount of orbital debris, which is difficult to counter. According to NASA and the U.S. Air Force, China’s anti-satellite weapon tests in January 2007 left up to 2,000 baseball-sized fragments orbiting at altitudes of 120 to 2,340 miles above the Earth. High speed makes these fragments extremely dangerous for man-made space objects.

An international treaty banning weapons from outer space certainly would help avoid more such trouble, or at least minimize the risks. Yet the United States sticks to the opinion that such an agreement would be impracticable.

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Tunguska Event Still A Mystery 100 Years OnTunguska Event Still A Mystery 100 Years On

Tunguska Event Still A Mystery 100 Years OnTunguska Event Still A Mystery 100 Years On

Scientists will gather in Siberia to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska Event June 26-28, one of the world’s most mysterious explosions which flattened 80 million trees but largely went unnoticed at the time. The massive blast, equivalent to around 15 megatons of TNT, occurred approximately 7-10 km (3-6 miles) above the Stony Tunguska River in a remote area of central Siberia early on June 30, 1908.

The explosion, which was estimated to measure up to 5 on the Richter scale, knocked people off their feet 70 km away and destroyed an area of around 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles).

And if the explosion had occurred some 4 hours and 47 minutes later, due to the Earth’s rotation it would have completely destroyed the then Russian capital of St. Petersburg.

However, despite the fact that the night sky was lit up across Europe and Asia and the shock waves were detected as far away as Britain, the Tunguska Event largely went unnoticed eclipsed by global events leading up to World War I, the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war and it was not until almost 20 years later in 1927 that any scientific expedition managed to visit the remote site.

The 1927-expedition led by Leonid Kulik, a leading meteorite expert at the Academy of Sciences, discovered the massive destruction left by the blast and gathered witness statements from locals living in the area. It was assumed that a huge meteorite had hit the area, although Kulik failed, during his research in Siberia, to find an obvious crater.

And around 33 years later another expedition was also unsuccessful in its search for the elusive crater and scientists were faced with the Tunguska mystery – an explosion, 1,000 times more powerful that the WWII atomic bomb at Hiroshima, but which had left no trace as to its cause.

Although there have been dozens of theories since, from UFOs, antimatter, doomsday events and black holes, the most likely being an airborne explosion of a 10-30-meter wide meteorite or comet, none of them has provided conclusive evidence which has merely fuelled the speculation surrounding Tunguska.

At the Tunguska conference in the Krasnoyarsk Territory in Siberia scientists from all over Russia will gather to discuss, using the latest computer technology, as well as less traditional methods, what actually caused the destruction in the remote Siberian region.

As part of the anniversary, in the Evenki autonomous area, a statue of the Evenki god of Thunder, which reflects eyewitness testimony to the events 100 years ago, will be erected at the site believed to be the meteorite crash location.

via FoxyTunes

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