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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mystery of the fourth planet


50 years ago, November 1, 1962

The Soviet space station...

Mars is on the border of the so-called "habitable zone" - the climatic conditions on the planet Earth is much harder, but still acceptable for organic life forms. Summer on the equator at noon the temperature is +20 ° C, the long winter it can drop below minus 140 ° C - twice colder very middle of winter in Antarctica.

Mars is 9 times lighter Earth. The atmosphere of the Red Planet on 95% of carbon dioxide, and its density corresponds to the Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 40 km - a walk without a suit for a person over instant death.

On the surface of the Red Planet is the highest volcano in the Solar System * - height Martian Olympus 27 kilometers, the base diameter of 600 km. The slopes of the long-extinct volcano framed by steep precipices semikilometrovymi - should be spectacular scenery! Mountain is so high that at its peak atmospheric conditions meet the open space.

The longest and deepest canyon in the solar system is also on Mars. Valleys Mariners stretches along the equator at 4500 miles, and its depth is 11 kilometers...

Supervolcano

As you may have guessed, is full of sights on Mars and mysterious places. Mars has long attracted the attention of researchers of the earth - close to our planet, with its own atmosphere and all the signs of an enabling environment for the emergence of extraterrestrial life. This furor has produced the discovery of "canals" on Mars - then even the most stubborn skeptics believe in the existence of a Martian civilization.

Have been for decades and "Martian canals" were an optical illusion. Sensitive spectrographs found no oxygen in the Martian atmosphere and water vapor - the key elements for life (at least in her tour, earthly sense), the last hopes faded of finding the brothers on reason. But there remains a distant dream of a perfect world, where maybe someday blossom apple orchards...


Exactly 50 years ago, November 1, 1962, humanity took a step toward his dream: Soviet spacecraft was first launched on the flight path to the Red Planet. Automatic interplanetary station "Mars-1" has been delivered to the goal of half a ton of scientific instruments and equipment. Soviet scientists had planned to really daring expedition: The unit had to check the possibility of long-distance communications, to study the properties of the interplanetary medium, to collect data on cosmic rays and micrometeorites flows, photograph Mars at close range, to study the magnetic field and the characteristics of the atmosphere of the Red Planet, and the extent possible, try to answer the question: "Is there life on Mars."

Launch vehicle "Lightning" successfully put the station into Earth orbit, involved upper stage - and the "Mars-1" has gone to his long seven-month journey to the Red Planet.
Interplanetary probe silently flying in icy emptiness, only occasionally "tossing" from side to side. Most of the time its solar panels point straight at the sun, but at some point, light sensors peering into the velvet blackness of space, trying to see twinkling star Canopus - it is to this point is "tied" the orientation of the probe. Obtaining the necessary data, on-board computer calculates the new position of the station in space - is set in the antenna toward Earth. It's time to pass telemetry. During the flight, "Mars-1" spent 61 radio sessions, during which the earth passed valuable information on the magnetic fields of the Earth and the interplanetary medium, the properties of the "solar wind" - a stream of charged particles from the Sun and the meteor shower.

Gusev Crater. It worked rover Spirit

But do not come true the dreams of scientists - at a distance of 106 million kilometers from Earth, there was a decompression cylinders orientation system. With compressed nitrogen, "Mars-1" had lost the orientation. Vain probe called for help for their creators - the signals from the probe could not be heard in the world.
June 19, 1963, according to ballistic calculations, the Soviet interplanetary station was in the vicinity of Mars, becoming the first man-made object ever to visit the Red Planet.



Why in space battleships

Sixties of the twentieth century were a time of genuine triumph of Soviet space: the first man in space, the first multi-seat spacecraft, the first step into the void - going beyond the ship in the suit, the first maneuver in orbit, the first picture side of the moon, the Soviet station on the surface of Venus and Mars ... USSR annually launched into orbit 100 spacecraft - in our time, so do not run all of the world combined.

Expeditions to distant planets require creating associated ground infrastructure, above all, long-distance communications systems. Required to hear a faint "squeak" interplanetary probe through hundreds of millions of miles of space, through the noise and magnetic storms, through the solar wind and the Earth's radio signals. 100 million kilometers ... how to present such an incredible distance? Car continually rushing down the highway at 100 km / h will require 114 years to get over this distance!

Complex task required extraordinary solutions. As a result, near Evpatoria appeared three strange objects - ADU-1000 Antenna System Deep Space Network "Pluto." All three of them - two receivers and one transmitter. Each antenna ADU-1000 is a block of eight parabolic dishes with a diameter of 16 meters, mounted on a rotating platform. Total weight of construction - 1500 tons!
At any time, at the request of the operator, the antenna unit should send their "look" at a point in the sky. But how to achieve the perfect pointing accuracy - up to 1 arc minute, if the moving parts weigh more than a thousand tons?

It came to the aid of radio astronomy shipbuilders. 8 antennas, "plates" attached to the huge span of the railway bridge, and the whole system is mounted on a slewing tower of the main fire on the unfinished battleship "Stalingrad". Know ours!

Mars is waiting for new heroes

Over the past 20 years Russia has sent to Mars, only two scientific expeditions: failed Mars 96 mission and the infamous Phobos-Grunt. Despite upbeat statements by the Russian Space Agency: "Yes, all nishtyak! Right now, and it will work to fix that, "even average citizens became clear that the Russian space program is in deep cesspool. Technologies for the exploration of outer space - the great heritage of the USSR, Russia has an old suitcase with a grandfather of tools and pulling hard, and throws a pity. How to fix the situation? Base on the Moon is unlikely to help; maybe you should pay more attention on the quality of space launches.

There are some positive aspects to this story? Of course! Despite the absence of their own start-ups, Russian specialists regularly participate in programs of NASA. For example - the joint Russian-American expedition to Mars Polar Lander. Unfortunately, the mission was a failure - the machine crashed on landing. Do not be so deafening whistle and shake his head - over the past 15 years the Americans themselves ruined three Martian expeditions. The truth is there is such a thing: in addition to the three failures, they had eight successful missions.

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