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Russia launches German telescope to map cosmos

July 13, 2019

Roskosmos has launched a German-Russian space telescope to replace Moscow's Hubble-like Spektr-R. The telescope will allow scientists to observe more than 100,000 galaxy clusters, marking "the beginning of a new era."

Russian Proton-M booster with the Spektr-RG space observatory blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Image: Reuters/Handout Roscosmos

Looking for Dark Energy

Russia's space agency on Saturday launched the Spektr-RG space telescope, a German-Russian venture, to replace a similar one that it lost contact with earlier this year.

The Spektr-R stopped responding to ground control in January. Russian space agency Roskosmos could not determine how it lost control of the satellite and formally ended its mission in May. Spektr-RG's launch was postponed twice due to battery issues.

Roskosmos said Saturday's launch had gone well. "Next stage: 3 months after launch — cruise to L2, positioning, calibration and testing, test observations," Roskosmos said, referring to the following phases of the mission.

Read more: NATO looks to outer space as modern warfare evolves

The eROSITA is a state-of-the-art telescope created by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial PhysicsImage: picture-alliance/Peter Friedrich/MPE/dpa

'Beginning of a new era'

The new Spektr-RG is carrying the X-ray telescope eROSITA. That instrument was provided by the Munich-based Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

"eROSITA marks the beginning of a new era in X-ray astronomy," said the institute in a statement. "No telescope has ever taken such a detailed look at the entire sky."

The eROSITA is expected to detect more than 100,000 galaxy clusters in a bid to measure dark energy in the universe. It will be accompanied by a Russian-made instrument, the ART-XC.

The Spektr-R and its successor were created to observe black holes and map the cosmos to better understand how the universe is expanding.

Read more: From Apollo 11 to the new space race

ls/jm (AFP, dpa)