Russia wants to restart German space telescope for black holes

Russia wants to restart a German black hole search telescope that went into space aboard a Russian satellite in 2019. Germany ordered the telescope shut down in early March in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

The telescope, called eROSITA and mounted on the Russian Specter-RG the spacecraft, explores the sky in search of sources of X-ray radiation (black holes i neutron stars) and works in conjunction with the Russian ART-X instrument looking for supermassive black holes.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has supported the invasion, including threatening to withdraw from International Space Station association. On Saturday (June 4th), Rogozin told Russian television that Russia plans to turn on eROSITA again without German permission, according to the German website. German wave (opens in a new tab).

Related: Germany shuts down black hole telescope on Russian satellite and stops space cooperation

“I was instructed to start working to restore the operation of the German telescope to the Spektr-RG system so that it would work together with the Russian telescope,” Rogozin said, according to Deutsche Welle. “They, the people who made the decision to shut down the telescope, do not have the moral right to stop this research for humanity just because their pro-fascist views are close to our enemies.” contacted the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, which operates eROSITA, but the institute declined to comment on the situation.

However, Russian scientists involved in the co-operation criticized the idea, saying that restarting eROSITA without German involvement could damage the telescope.

“Our management of eROSITA is not easy and, in a way, even risky, because we did not create this device and did not make it work,” said Alexander Sergeev, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. , in the Russian news agency. Interfax (opens in a new tab) according to a Google translation.

But Rogozin seemed imperfect, and in a Telegram publication (opens in new tab) attributed to him said in response to Sergeev’s statement that “Roscosmos specialists” will be “able to solve the tasks assigned to them without damaging the control loop of the German telescope” , according to a Google translation.

“The telescope was not turned off by the Germans, but by Russian specialists at the request of Germany,” Rogozin wrote in the unverified publication, dated June 6. “Russian astronomers need an observatory that works, not a piece without energy. Iron and glass hanging a million and a half kilometers [900,000 miles] of the Earth “.

Ars Technique (opens new tab) reported on Monday (June 6th) that, according to unnamed German officials, restarting the scientific instrument without the involvement of Germany “could cause damage to the telescope.”

Legally, the situation seems a bit murky. Russia, which launched the Spektr-RG spacecraft, is also registered as the sole owner of the United Nations. Registration of space objects (opens in a new tab), Christopher Johnson, a space law advisor for the Secure World Foundation, told

“Being a record state and a launch state, Russia’s control over the object is quite strong,” Johnson told, referring to Outer space treatise (opens in a new tab), a United Nations document setting out rules for international cooperation in outer space. “Germany still owns eROSITA, despite being on a Russian spacecraft, and both parties have an obligation to cooperate and show due consideration to the other party, as well as not to interfere with each other’s rights. to explore space and do space science “.

However, Russia could interpret Germany’s withdrawal from cooperation as exactly that, an interference with its ability to do science, although Johnson said that argument did not necessarily justify restarting the instrument. “Russia has no right to explore space with another state’s telescope,” he said.

Things were going well for eROSITA before the invasion of Ukraine. The telescope, which looks at the X-ray universe, released its first batch of data to the scientific community in July 2021, revealing more than one 3 million recent black holes and neutron stars.

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom yen Facebook.

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