Finally, after a month long delay, Russia has launched its powerful X-ray observatory, Spektr-RG. Well, the cause for the delay was due to faulty batteries on board the spacecraft because of which the launch was delayed. The launch was held on Saturday, July 13, at 5:30 a.m. PT taking off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Spektr-RG is a Russian/German high-energy astrophysics space observatory formed in cooperation between the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) along with universities in Russia and Germany.
It was launched on 13 July 2019 and follows on from the Spektr-R satellite telescope that was launched in the year 2011.
The concept behind the Spektr-RG mission was published in the year 2005 and by 2016 construction was finished, and then at last by mid-2018 it was under integration and testing. A first it was initially scheduled to be launched in June 2019 but was then delayed to 12 July before the flight was scrapped at the last minute. It was then finally launched the next day, 13 July 2019, from Baikonur Site 81/24. The observatory was combined to a Navigator satellite bus.
This astrophysics space observatory is going to survey in the X-ray frequency as soon as it reaches its ultimate destination in 100 days. Its main objective is to reach the final destination in an orbit which is sitting in the middle of the gravitational pull of the Sun as well as the Earth in a location named a Lagrange point located 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from Earth. This in other terms also means that very little fuel is required in order to keep the observatory in its right place.
Along with discovering remarkable cosmic features, information and data collected from the observatory may perhaps also help scientists to learn assitional about how black holes are formed and how dark energy affects the method that the universe is increasing and intensifying.
This is going to put Russia as well as Germany at the forefront of X-ray observations, but it has been a rough road for the Russian space platform. Also, the postponement to this week’s launch, the project was originally scheduled to be launched as early as 1995. The program was canceled because of the funding issues in the year 2002, but it was restored in 2005 when Germany walked in to help.
And the Spektr-RG’s forerunner, the Spektr-R satellite operations come to an end in January this year when communications with it were suddenly lost. Ground controllers tried to contact the satellite up till May when it was finally confirmed lost.
The major equipment on board the observatory comprises of two X-ray telescopes, ART-XC as well as eROSITA. ART-XC is intended to sense or perceive high energy X-rays with a constricted field of view, while eROSITA, on the other hand, looks at lower energy X-rays.
Together, they both are going to conduct a seven-year X-ray survey in order to search for clusters of galaxies as well as active galactic nuclei. It is anticipated that the survey may possibly discover “several thousand growing supermassive black holes hidden from viewers on Earth by thick clouds of dust and gas concentrating around accretion discs,” as per to the Russian space commentator Anatoly Zak.