Russia has successfully launched a new telescope into space, marking a significant milestone for the country’s space science program — and probably paving the way for the mapping of the cosmos at a level of detail never before achieved.
The Spektr-RG telescope, a Russian-German joint venture, was successfully delivered into orbit by a Russian Proton-M rocket, The Associated Press reported. The rocket was launched, following repeated delays, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday evening, local time.
The telescope is en path to its final destination, the L2 Lagrange point, which the craft is anticipated to succeed in about three months. “Lagrange points are unique positions within the solar system where objects can maintain their position relative to the sun and the planets that orbit it,” AP defined.
L2, located about a million miles from Earth, is a popular “parking place” for observatories as it provides a clear view of deep space. Once there, the telescope’s objective shall be to conduct an entire X-ray survey of the sky ― one carried out “with outstanding sensitivity,” based on Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency.
It might be the first-ever map of the universe in high-energy X-rays, Nature magazine noted.
Such a map “shall be essential to resolve the core questions of recent cosmology,” Roscosmos stated in a press launch. “How do dark energy and dark matter have an effect on the formation of the large-scale structure of the Universe? What is [the] cosmological evolution of supermassive black holes?”
The agency added that the telescope, which has reportedly taken a long time to develop, is predicted to find about “100,000 large clusters of galaxies” and millions of supermassive black holes ― lots of them new to science ― over a four-year survey interval.