Lev Zelenyi est le Directeur du célèbbre ISI ou Institut de Recherche Spatiale à Moscou. Il parle de différents problèmes et en particulier de la question de "quoi faire en matière spatiale?": Petits satellites, ISS, Mars... mais aussi Gagarine et surtout Mtislave Keldysh qu'il considère comme le plus grand scientifique du 20ème siècle, excusez du peu!
What is going on now on near-earth and interplanetary orbits? Director of Space Research Institute of RAS academician Lev Zelenyi tells of these issues.
— What can “small satellites” do?
— It seems to me that times of great satellites where a lot of devices and equipment were installed went away. A large platform supposed a wide range of researches. I was concerned in detail with one project on “Prognoz” where twenty devices were installed, and understanding between the participants of this experiment could not always be gained. Of course, on such a large satellite complicated support systems were installed which constantly required to be adjusted.
Working on a small satellite, many problems became simplified. We put a device, make an engine and control system, install the equipment for information transfer — that’s all. Now we are preparing such a small satellite for a space flight. Its name is “Chibis (Peewit)”. It will study lightning strikes. It would seem that everything is known about electricity in the Earth atmosphere, and this field of physics is deemed to be explored enough — as if everything is clear. However, satellite observations promoted to find out a very interesting phenomenon. As it turned out, a strong gamma-ray radiation comes from the atmosphere. The same radiation was registered during nuclear tests. It emerged that this radiation is caused by lightnings: high-current lightning discharges come almost uninterruptedly in one or another part of the planet. This phenomenon is of a high interest. Physicists developed several theories and they have to be experimentally checked.
Another satellite is named “Rusalka” (“Mermaid”). It studies the greenhouse effect, though in certain areas. Flying above the planet area it looks on it and determines the place where greenhouse gases can come from. Globally, in scale of the Earth, the problem is known but it shall be made more concrete. Where do the greenhouse gases come from: swamps, volcanoes or pig farms? It is not known exactly. There is an idea that everything is connected with industry, but nature is much more powerful than a human being, so there can be misunderstanding of our power. In this case, the greenhouse effect fight which is so much written about and which is so active concerned with not only by scientists but also politicians, can be in fact one more illusion, so acquainted for people. Generally speaking, we need precise scientific data and “Rusalka” will help to obtain them.
— What else is in perspective?
— The next project is Jupiter satellite Europe. There are so many interesting things but the task is very difficult. The landing principle is not clear yet. The radiation is rather high there. Europe is located between the radiation belts of Jupiter, so it is difficult for equipment to be under exploitation for a long time. The Americans plan to work there for hundred days, for us a month will be probably sufficient …But it is so difficult to “live” there… However if we can do it, the efficiency can be great. Starts are planned for 2020.
Besides, we discuss project “Venera-D” with great interest. The question is about soft landing on the planet. Besides not for some minutes as it was before but for some days. Different technical devices to provide this are already invented. I think it shall be a very interesting experiment. Moreover, an “international team” is flying to Mercury. And we take part in this flight! It is European and Japanese equipment. The start is planned in 2015. The stations are equipped with devices of our Institute. By the way, in 2020 a flotilla of four devices — our, American, European and Japanese — shall arrive to Europe. Each device has its own work program, which all together form one total program.
— Are there any working contacts with Chinese specialists?
— They take rather active part in our “Fobos”. They made a small satellite to investigate Mars. We deliver it there. The Chinese invest big money to space technologies, they want to be quickly trained to everything. I visit China once per two or three years and every time I think I visit a new country — they develop very quickly. During my first visit I saw a lot of bicycles, now they are almost absent — cars are everywhere.
There is a clear program of space investigation in China, and they try to follow it using to the full extent the experience of Americans, of us and European experience. The Moon satellite worked rather good… When there is a political will, a development can be very quick. The Chinese confirm this once again.
— Are ambitious projects required?
— Of course. Moreover, they need to be of priority.
— Which of them can be?
— Flight to Mars. Of course, international cooperation is required, but this project shall become the national project. To my mind, this will be much more effective and important than others.
— Do you mean nanotechnology?
— As well.
— You said nothing about the International Space Station…
— Views are trend to be changed and developed. Five or six years ago I would probably say nothing from what I can say today. In the very beginning I was a real opponent of the International Space Station, considering it to be a full loss of energy and money. Why? This was the period of the 90th, the cosmonautics has nothing at all, scientific space went into liquidation in Eltsin days. We began to install our scientific devices to foreign space vehicles, and the International Space Station required a lot of money. It was done not in the name of science but for the political prestige. But now we can estimate, not looking for guilty or innocent, but accept what became a reality. The international Space Station allowed keeping a “human view” of our cosmonautics, and this is its merit. The cosmic medicine is being developed, and this is undoubtedly very important. And if we begin to speak and then will put into execution the piloted flight to Mars, then the experience of work in the International Space Station will be undoubtedly useful and demanded.
— Formerly before starting up the first segments of the International Space Station, the scientific experimental suggestions were collected from all scientific institutions of Russia. Academician Utkin headed the committee sorting these suggestions. Mr. Utkin told that there were about 500 projects, one better than others. What is their fate?
— Gathering dust… Only seven or eight projects were accepted. Two or three were implemented.
— Don’t you think that the country government does not appreciate to the end the human’s exit into space?
— It is a very painful problem for me… There was an anniversary of the first Earth artificial satellite launching. Fifty years! The whole world recognizes and honors this event. As a Director of Space Research Institute I made all possible efforts to celebrate decently this significant date, our people can be proud for by right. But the top country authority ignored it, though I invited everyone to take part in solemn activities…
In 2011 there will be two great anniversaries. The 50th anniversary from the date of Gagarin’s flight and the 100th anniversary from the date of birth of Mstislav V. Keldysh — the greatest scientist of the ХХ century. There is a square near the Institute named after him. But there is no monument, no park… there is nothing! I think Yu. Gagarin will be certainly remembered, but Keldysh can be forgotten about. These two persons deserve a special attitude in our country, and we have to do our best to keep their feats in souls of every resident of Russia.http://tvroscosmos.ru/frm/zhurnal/2010/0310_2engl.php