By Mac Slavo
Mayak, a Russian satellite that will become one of the brightest stars in the night sky, is just two weeks away from launching into space. Their goal is to make the unique satellite bright with the use of a giant reflective sheet of material, but some scientists are warning that there may be negative consequences.
The satellite is small, roughly the size of a loaf of bread and in the form of a CubeSat. It will be launched on a Soyuz 2.1v vehicle on Friday, July 14, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, as a secondary payload. The project, led by Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University (MAMI), raised more than $30,000 on Russian crowdfunding website Boomstarter.
Once in orbit, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) high, the satellite is designed to unfurl a giant pyramid-shaped solar reflector. The goal is for this satellite to shine brighter than any other star in the night sky. To do this, its reflector made of Mylar will span 16 square meters (170 square feet) and is apparently 20 times thinner than human hair. The mission is also acting as a technology demonstration, to test how to brake satellites in orbit and de-orbit them.
“Mayak,” which translates to “Beacon” in English is controversial though. “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 said, reported Sputnik News. Mayak’s only mission is to be bright and remove defunct satellites from earth’s orbit.
But it runs the risk of a backlash from scientific and environmental groups, depending on how bright it is. Some, like Russia Today, have suggested it may shine as bright as the Moon, although that is questionable. Nonetheless, if it is excessively bright, it could cause havoc for astronomers who rely on darkness to observe the universe. “We fight so hard for dark skies in and around our planet,” Nick Howes, an astronomer and former deputy director of the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland, told IFLScience. “To see this being potentially ruined by some ridiculous crowdfunded nonsense makes my heart simply despair.”
Skeptics won’t keep the satellite from launching though. Russia will put Mayak in space in about two weeks, on July 14. We’ll have to wait to see just how bright it is and if it’s bright enough to warrant complaints from scientists.
This article (Russian Satellite Will Launch In Two Weeks, Will Be The Brightest Star In Sky) was originally published on SHTF Plan and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.
Continues from Mysterious Universe…
Russian Satellite Will Be Brighter Than Stars and Planets
By Paul Seaburn
Astronomers are already pretty upset about all of the ground light humans are generating that brightens the night sky and forces them to put telescopes on the tops of mountains or in space to escape the star-hiding glare. Now they’re about to get even madder. Russia is set to launch a crowdfunded satellite that is predicted to be brighter than all stars and planets in the sky, ranking behind just the Sun, the Moon and possibly Venus in intensity. How do astronomers show their anger? Will they turn their telescopes towards the bedroom windows of those responsible and start posting revenge porn?
Mayak, which means either ‘lighthouse’ or ‘beacon’ depending on if you’re warning or looking, was announced in early 2016 with a crowdfunding campaign which eventually surpassed its 1.5 million rubles ($35,350 US) goal to build a cute little bread-loaf-sized cubesat that would be launched into orbit where it will do its best Transformer imitation and unfurl into a massive 16 square meters (170 square feet) pyramid-shaped solar reflector made out of thin polymer film. What noble or scientific function will this py(ramid)-in-the-sky serve?
“A star that will remind the world who was the first in space and will show that not only states and corporations can contribute to space exploration.”
According to the crowdfunding page, the purpose of Mayak is bragging rights. The Russians were the first to launch a satellite, the first to put a dog, man and woman in space and now will be the first to blind us by bragging. To soften the blow, the site tries to give Mayak an additional noble cause of testing “the system of aerodynamic braking, which will help to find a solution to the problem of space debris!” They have to create space debris in order to prevent it. How Orwellian.
It gets worse. Start singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little sat” because Mayak will not be stationary in its orbit 600 km (3,728 mile) above the Earth. According to its specs, “Mayak will be put into a tumbling motion over all axes, with at least 1 revolution per second.” Most estimates are putting its sparkling glow at between a brightness magnitude of -3.6 (behind the Sun, the Moon and Venus) and a magnitude of -10, which is brighter than Venus.
Can Mayak be stopped? Probably not. It’s scheduled to be launched launched on a Soyuz 2.1v rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 14. Once this Russian ego-booster is boosted into space, it’s all over, says Nick Howes, an astronomer and former deputy director of the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland.
“We fight so hard for dark skies in and around our planet. To see this being potentially ruined by some ridiculous crowdfunded nonsense makes my heart simply despair.”
You don’t want to despair a stargazer with a powerful telescope. All of you who crowdfunded this project would be wise to keep your shades down.
Paul Seaburn is one of the most prolific writers at Mysterious Universe who has written for T.V. shows like “The Tonight Show”, “Politically Incorrect” and “Comic Strip Live”. He’s also written for sites like “New York Times”, “HuffingtonPost.com” and “Capitalist banter”. Paul adds a bit of comedy to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn’t always have to be serious.
This article (Russian Satellite Will Be Brighter Than Stars and Planets) was originally published on Mysterious Universe and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.