Russia’s Mayak Satellite Becomes The Third Brightest Object In The Sky

Posted: Jul 21 2017, 12:22am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Russia’s Mayak Satellite Becomes the Third Brightest Object in the Sky
Artist's impression of Mayak

The tiny satellite was launched into space on July 14

Russian students have successfully launched a satellite into space and it has now become the brightest object in the sky except sun and moon.

The satellite, called Mayak, is a cubeSat or miniature satellite, roughly the size of a loaf of bread. Mayak is a Russian word for “beacon” and it is fitting for a satellite that has a reflective surface. Once it reaches orbit directly opposite the sun, the satellite will extend its pyramid-shaped reflectors and bounce the sunlight backward towards the Earth.

The satellite was launched on July 14, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz 2.1v vehicle. It was one of 72 satellites sent into space on the rocket last weekend.

“The satellite launch was good, and we are waiting for NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) to track it,” Alexander Panov, a scientist from Mayak team told IFLScience. “Roscosmos reported that everything was as planned, without any additional info.”

The project is a result of crowdfunded campaign initiated by students from University of Mechanical Engineering in Moscow. The team ended up collecting $30,000 via the Boomstarter crowd-funding site.

Mayak will orbit at 370 miles above the Earth and will last for only a month. Its main objective is to test the technicalities of unfurling enormous reflecting banners in space. Other goal is to build aerodynamic braking system for satellites that can be used to bring them back down to Earth without needing an engine. The successful launch of the satellite also proves that efforts like crowd-funding can also be used to pay for space research projects. Space research is a field usually limited to government or wealthy groups and individuals.

“We want to show that space exploration is something exciting and interesting, but most importantly that today it is accessible to everybody who is interested.” Project leader Alexander Shaenko told in an earlier statement.

Mayak is the brightest man-made object in the sky and it could disrupt astronomical observations as astronomers need complete darkness to observe the universe. However, the satellite itself will be visible in the night sky “from any point on our planet.” The satellite will orbit the Earth 16 times every day for a full month before it burns up.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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