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Home arrow newsitems arrow Russian Space Research Institute Head Zelenyi to EuroFora: Projects before Medvedev-Sarkozy Summit

Russian Space Research Institute Head Zelenyi to EuroFora: Projects before Medvedev-Sarkozy Summit

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 17 February 2010

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In an Interview to "EuroFora" on the sidelines of International Space University's 2010 Symposium, 1 Day after Galileo's Birthday's Anniversary (15 February 1564), and shortly before Russian President Medvedev meets with French President Sarkozy in Paris, the Director of the Russian Space Research Institute, Academician professor Lev Zelenyi, presented his views on the current prospects for European and International Cooperation in Space Science.

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Topically, Zelenyi's visit to Strasbourg came the same Month that EU's ambitions "to guarantee Europe's Access to Space" (particularly via "a New Generation of Launchers"), and joint wish for a Strategic partnership with Russia, were both stressed by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy, at the latest Franco-German Summit, earlier in Paris, (Comp. February 4 "EuroFora"'s PressReports from Elysee).

- "Attention : It's one of the most important Academocians that we have", carefully warned "EuroFora" ISU's experienced Professor Nicolai Tolyarenko...

But, to "EuroFora"'s 1st question : - "Why Strasbourg now ?", Professor Zelenyi had many answers to give, going from Space to .. Patricia Kaas :

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- "I've heard many times about ISU, and Strasbourg is a famous place : I know about CoE, the History, even ..Particia Kaas (France's top singer at Eurovision's 2009 song contest in Moscow, with a particularly .. spicy "Spacy" text), etc..

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"But this time, particularly, I wanted to show this place to my wife, Eugenia", he told us, pointing at a beautiful, serious and distinguished Lady, also from the Russian Academy of Sciences as her husband Lev, who presented an interesting Poster at ISU's 2010 Symposium with a comparative Synthesis of the main Space powers' projects : EU, Russia, USA, China, etc.

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- "And, also, we are always interested in Space Education, because it's one of the main issues, both in EU, in the States and in Russia, etc. But for us, in Russia, we have a special problem : It's called "Brain Drain", Professor Zelenyi went on to add.

- "When it's drain to the EU, we (Russia) we don't consider that any more as "Brain Drain", because we are considering ourselves (i.e. Russia) as part of Europe. But when educated People go to the US it's more complicated, (since) they never come back, so far.. However, for People working in France or Germany, it's differend, there are contacts, etc", he observed.

- "And now, there is an interesting trend, after 2 Decades of violent Capitalism in Russia : Before, Young People had stopped to be interested in a real career, to be Engineer, to be Scientist, etc. Everybody wanted to be a Lawyer, to be a Stockbroker, Money kripling etc. But now it's changing, the Global Crisis came, and a sort of "Reverse-Flow" begun. We have now many Young Students decided to make their careers, they need to do something real, not imaginary as selling Stocks. So, now we have good Students, good Post-Docs, etc. And now, I've just come here to see how EU is solving the problem of Space Education" and communication to the public, Zelenyi said.

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- " I was impressed by some thoughts : It's really well done", he observed, speaking also about ISU's 2010 Symposium, dedicated to the "Public Face of Space", i.e. Media, Education, outreach, etc.. "I try to advovate the same principles in Russia, because, in Russian Space Agencies there is no such room, or part of Budget for Space Projects which should be allocated to Public Outreach. It's very bad, because our Taxpayers don't know what is going inside. We try to overcome this, and, just recently, special TV programs have been organized, I also read Public Lectures sometimes, etc. and we shall try to change this, in Public from the two sides : Something very important for the Community and Society. It's not very easy, because, for 20 years, our People had some Brain-washing, from some Hollywood movies, that they'd need Money Kripling, to make a Stockbroker, etc. But now, for Young People, there is something like a "Moment of Truth", they change and reconsider their ways. Last 2 or 3 Years have been very good : We had much more Students wanting to come to Physics, Astronomy and Engineering".

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An interesting Proposal presented at ISU 2010 Symposium's Poster session in Strasbourg by Professor Zelenyi, is to "begin preparations for Space Exploration by Manned Missions" by establishing an "International Space Educational" Centre (ISEC) or network, dedicated to "costly projects (which) can be organized only on the assumption of International Cooperation", as "new manned expeditions to the Moon and the 1st manned missions to Mars", etc.

The proposed ISEC's "prestige" should attract "the Best Scientists, Engineers and Experts", but be "relatively non-expensive", "supported" also by non-commercial organizations, working "in close Cooperation with Professionals .. involved in preparation of Manned Flights to the Moon and Mars", suggested the Director of Russia's Space Research Center.

Because, "on-going developments of Space Science demonstrate that new manned expeditions to the Moon and the first manned mission to Mars are not far off"", and "it's evident that the majority of future Participants of such Space Expeditsions have already been born", and should be "better prepared to a great Challenge that Mankind will meet in the 21st Century", as Zelenyi observed. F.ex., "current vital issues, such as the development of reliable and low-cost Life-support equipments, New means of .. soft-Landing systems, the Design of Inter-Planetary SpaceShips and their Launch Vehicles, elaboration of Control devices in Distant Space", etc., can become the topics of ISEC students' research or graduation works and Doctoral thesis".

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"EuroFora" asked Zelenyi what prospects exist in practice "for the "International Space Education Center" that he has proposed :

- "It's our Plan. We wanted to do it. But there are many things on which we have to find the Best Way. One of them was that we wanted to see how it's organized here (i.e. at Strasbourg's ISU). Because what we suggested, in some ways resembled into what is done in this Education Center now".

Asked by "EuroFora" if his idea might include "some kind of Network", Zelenyi partly agreed :

- "That's one of the reasons for which I came here. I want to make some Arrangements for the Future Centre with ISU. Because we already have the Infrastructure", he anounced.

- "If it's in Russia, where might it be (located) ?", "EuroFora" asked.

- "We have 3 main Space-Cities : Moscow, Samara -which is the Rocket-City, at Volga River- and Krasnoyarsk - at Siberia's Ienissei river, with the famous Communication Satellites' industry and institute", Professor Zelenyi replied, apparently leaving several options open.

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Meanwhile, "2010 is also the France-Russia Year", simultaneously celebrated in both countries, "and we have organized a series of events on Space : There will be some Conferences in Paris, other Conferences in Moscow, particularly on October, that we shall devote to Russian-French cooperation. I am organizing Space-Physics, others organize on Medical Science, Mathematics, etc", anounced to "EuroFora" Professor Zelenyi, who is also "Head of the Joint French - Russian Laboratory on Solar System Physics", concerning all neighbouring Planets, including Earth : "It's a kind of Synergy between Planetary and Plasma Sciences", as he described it.

In this context, "I often go to Paris", particularly "for CNES", (the French Space Agency), Zelenyi added, handing to "EuroFora" a superbe "2010" Calendar of the Russian Space Research Institute dedicated to Galileo's and Sputnik's Anniversaries and picturing an ambitious big New Russian Space Mission to Jupiter, symbolically targeting to land at its famous satellite "Europa"..

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   But, the Director of Russia's Space Research Institute left open an "EuroFora" 's question whether the current World-wide need for new "Space Vehicles", (as, f.ex. the Russian "Kliper" project, that ESA debated since Berlin's December 2005 Summit, after USA's reluctance to jointly work for NASA's future Space Vehicle), might be, or should be some kind of cooperation, between France, Germany and other EU countries, with Russia :

- Personally, "I'm not mostly working for Manned Space Flight. But, my impression is, that, what our Agencies want to have, at least with the EU, they want to have a very Extensive Cooperation, with Space Vehicles, and Kliper, etc. I've heard that many times"

- "But it's not easy for us, because it's very Time and Money-consuming, and our Space Programs don't have defined yet our Goals : To go to Mars, to go to the Moon, to the Sun, etc. It's not defined yet". Until now, "Man Space Programs have some Long-term trends, most spread in 50, 40 or 30 Years from now. Otherwise, it's just circling around he Earth, it's not money-wise. And most financing sources, are mostly .. keeping their belts"..

- Zelenyi also said to "EuroFora" that Russian research on the matter has now advanced further than the recent "Kliper" project, (that ESA had examined for a possible cooperation since 2005/2006, after NASA's reluctance to share with Europe the preparation of a future Space Vehicle), particularly "on Nuclear propulsion", etc. "But", at least for the time being, this new technology "seems more adapted to Robotic missions than to Human Space Flight", i.e. leaving the main question open.

However, pointing also at "the potential of the International Space Station for Space Education" and research. - "But there is a possibility to do some good Science at the International Space Station", he added.

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"I would share with you my Experience on International Cooperation in Space Activities", Russian Space Research Center's Director replied later to another "EuroFora"'s question at ISU's Symposium : - "A Difficulty seems to be to have cooperation of many Countries in large, huge Space Projects, like Missions to Mars, Missions to Moon, etc. which is also underway. But for Small Scientific Satellites it's quite natural, because many Countries are f.ex. currently interested into Monitoring Hazardous events", as. f.ex. in the case of "a Weather Satellite for the Balkans, where people from Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, etc. have joined Space projects to study such Monitoring capabilities that Spacecrafts and Satellites make feasible to many. And we have also seen strong interest by Latin American Countries who want to have this Weather Monitoring Capability, so wa have discussions with Argentinians, with Brazil, etc".

- "So, small Scientific Satellites seem even better suited for International Cooperation, because they are less Bureaucratic than the "heavy" projects of Space Agencies : If it's done at a University level, it's much faster", Professor Zelenyi concluded.

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- "Since Peter the Great, in Russia, Education is going on in Universities, while Scientific Research is done in the Academy of Sciences", even if this separation is not absolute", he said in a speach at ISU's Symposium later.

- So, "our Goal is not just to initiate People in Space, but to initiate them in Space Science", stressed Zelenyi, who is an Academician, Professor of Physics.

However, "while "Russian Space Industry is in a very good shape, mainly because of many Commercial launches for American, EU or other companies", on the contrary, for several years, "there have not been many Scientific Satellite launches", contrary to the Past, and that's why "small Educational Micro-Satellites", easier to launch, became interesting in practice. .

- "A lot of Press Reports" spoke about what became later the "Program on Lightnings" : Some "Strategic Satellites" had "found Gamma-flashes not only from Stars, but also by Lightning Discharges". he observed.

- An "Interesting" phenomenon, "not known before" : "these Electrons interact, strongly accelerated, during Lightning Discharges in Upper Atmosphere", and "these accelerated particles .. give very strong Gamma Ray emmissions".

- "The most Exciting part was Data Analysis" done after an Educational Satellite launch, "by Australian and Russian Students", on Scientific Satellites' results, he noted.

- "This was a New Phenomenon", of a kind of "Terrestrial Gamma-Flashes", who has to be studied by "New Physics", he concluded.

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"EuroFora" asked Professor Zelenyi to "develop" his point on "New Physics" :

- "It was unexpected when it produced some new facts about accelerated ..electrons which interacted with others", he replied.

- "A previous, 1st experiment was Educational. But a New one is about some Physics' interests for Lightning discharge. ..The 1st one was 3 years ago. It was Educational, called "Colibri". But this "is a New one, called "Chibis" (a small Bird in Russian)", he explained.

- "It's about some studies of the Physics of ..Lightning, of new appearances in Lightning : It's related with the Acceleration of ..Electrons, and generation of Gamma-flashes. They are produced by highly accelerated electrons. And the electrons are created by strokes of Electric Fields produced in the course of colliding"

- "This was already found", earlier, "but not by a specialized spacecraft", but only by one used for other, "Strategic" missions, as fex. to search for secret Nuclear Weapons' Testing. "It looked not to the sky, but for the Earth part of the story". So, "it wasn't designed for these studies".

- "But now, we want to have a good Resolution, because it's important to seek the Secret : Which comes first ? It's a kind of "Chicken and Egg" problem", he said about the Lightings and the strange Optical eventts.

So, "New Physics are the physics of what is happening there, how this super-stroke electricity is generated, very close to the Earth". - "People never thought about it". There is "No Model" for this yet, Professor Zelenyi concluded.

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French CNES' Satellite "Taranis", due to be launched Next Year (2011/2012), is reportedly destinated to examine Radiations from Lightnigs, sprites, and other Optical events recently observed on Thunderstorms.

Earlier-launched Russian satellites "Universitetsky-Tatiana" I and II ,(after a strange incident which blocked one of them, provoking speculations about an eventual external "interference"), reportedly found that terrestrial gamma ray bursts are focused mainly around the Equatorial area.

Now "Chibis" New Russian, Educational Satellite is reportedly ready to advance Scientific Research on Terrestrial Gamma bursts even further.

Gamma Rays, the strongest radiation, initially discovered by French Scientist Paul Villard (1860-1934), might, in some rare hypothesis, destroy part of the Ozone layer protecting Earth's Atmosphere, but also provoke burns, cancers or genetic mutations. Thick layers of protective materials are needed in order to safeguard Humans.

But on the so-called "Terrestrian Gamma Flashes", and other "Optical Events" reportedly occuring over Thunderstorms, another practical interest is to contribute into exploring Atmospheric and probably Weather Science, whose importance grew after various recent Extreme Weather Phenomena both in Europe and Worldwide.

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(NDLR : Some inaccuracies in details might occur due to technical problems in Audio-Transcript, and will be corrected asap).

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Brixen-Bressanone/ACM/3.8.08

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