Like its American counterpart, the Russian satellite navigation system, known as GLONASS, was designed to determine the coordinates and the speed of an aircraft, a vessel or any other vehicle across the globe. The third-generation satellite in the Russian global positioning system was known as GLONASS-K.
- GLONASS-K is the first unpressurised GLONASS satellite-all of its equipment is able to operate in a vacuum. Due to this, the satellite’s mass has been substantially reduced: GLONASS-K has a mass of just 750 kg compared to its predecessor GLONASS-M, which had a mass of 1,450 kg.
- The new satellite has an operational lifetime of 10 years, three years longer than that of GLONASS-M and 7 years longer than the lifetime of the original GLONASS satellite.
- GLONASS-K will transmit additional navigation signals to improve the system’s accuracy.
- Existing FDMA signals, 2 military and 2 civilian, will be transmitted on the L1 and L2 bands.
- Additional civilian CDMA signals will be transmitted in the t1, L2, L3 and L5 bands. The new satellite’s advanced equipment-made solely from Russian components-will allow the doubling of GLONASS’ accuracy.
- Russia plans to launch five Glonass satellites this year to replace the ones that crashed and deploy back-up satellites. The Glonass-K, which has a service life of 10 years, will beam five navigation signals.
- Glonass will be integrated with the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), as well as with the European Union’s Galileo system and China’s Compass network when they are deployed. Experts said the use of a two-signal receiver that supports both GPS and Glonass increases reliability by 15 per cent.
KA-SAT, the first High Throughput Satellite (HTS) in Europe, marks a new generation of multi-spotbeam high-capacity satellites. Built for Eutelsat by EADS Astrium, KA-SAT’s revolutionary concept is based on a payload with 82 narrow Ka-band spotbeams connected to a network of ten ground stations. This configuration enables frequencies to be reused 20 times and takes total throughput to beyond 70 Gbps.
The ground network uses ViaSat’s SurfBeam technology, similar to the solution powering broadband connectivity for almost 450,000 satellite homes in North America. The satellite will provide broadband Internet access services across Europe and also a small area of the Middle East. The combination of KA-SAT’s exceptional capacity and ViaSat’s SurfBeam technology will make it possible to deliver Internet connectivity for more than one million homes, at speeds comparable to ADSL.
The new Ka-Sat network is controlled by Eutelsat’s Skylogic subsidiary at their NOC in Turin, and customer provisioning, support, billing and ongoing ground services are provided by Tooway Direct in conjunction with its network of European resellers. The satellite has completed final testing following the gradual commissioning of it’s on-board systems over the 5 months since launch.
PAMELA (Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics) is an operational cosmic ray research module attached to an Earth orbiting satellite. PAMELA was launched on 15th June 2006. PAMELA is the largest device yet built by the Wizard collaboration, which includes Russia, Italy, Germany and Sweden and has been involved in many satellite and balloon-based cosmic ray experiments such as Fermi-GLAST.
It is the first satellite-based experiment dedicated to the detection of cosmic rays, with a particular focus on their antimatter component, in the form of positrons and antiprotons.
Other objectives include:
- long-term monitoring of the solar modulation of cosmic rays,
- measurements of energetic particles from the Sun,
- high-energy particles in Earth’s magnetosphere and Jovian electrons.
- It is also hoped that it may detect evidence of dark matter annihilation.
RESULTS: Preliminary data, released August 2008, indicated an excess of positrons in the range 10-60 GeV. This is thought to be a sign of dark matter annihilation: hypothetical WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) colliding with and annihilating each other to form gamma rays, matter and antimatter particles.
IN NEWS: A paper, published on 15th July 2011, confirmed earlier speculation that the Van Allen belt could confine a significant flux of antiprotons produced by the interaction of the Earth’s upper atmosphere with cosmic rays. The energy of the antiprotons has been measured in the range of 60-750 MeV.
LUNAR RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER (LRO)
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon whose main mission is to make a 3-D map of the Moon’s surface. It was launched in
June 2009. The LRO mission is a precursor to future manned missions to the moon by NASA. The detailed mapping program will identify safe landing sites, locate potential resources on the moon including water ice in permanently shadowed regions in craters at the lunar polar regions, study the radiation environment, and demonstrate new technology. The first images from LRO were published in July 2009.
It was launched in conjunction with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), as the vanguard of NASA’s Lunar Precursor Robotic Program. This is the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years. LRO and LCROSS are the first missions launched as part of the United States’s Vision for Space Exploration program.
JOINT EXPLORATION WITH CHANDRAYAAN:
In August 2009 the spacecraft, along with the Chandrayaan-1, was used to perform a Bistatic radar experiment to detect the presence of water ice on the lunar surface. In this experiment, Chandrayaan transmitted radar pulses which, after reflection from the surface, were picked up by the receivers of both the LRO and the Chandrayaan but at different angles. Both receivers, the Mini-RF in LRO and the Mini-SAR in Chandrayaan, are similar in nature. They were pointed at the Erlanger crater for four minutes during which the observations were made.
On 15th March 2011, the final set of data was released. The spacecraft’s 7 instruments delivered more than 192 terabytes of data. LRO has already collected as much data as all other planetary missions combined. This volume of data is possible because the Moon is so close and because LRO has its own dedicated ground station and doesn’t have to share time on the Deep Space Network [DSN, is a world-wide network of large antennas and communication facilities that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions]. Among the latest products is a global map with a resolution of 100 meters per pixel from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC).