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Russian scientists develop electromagnetic cannon to study Universe

July 12, 17:29 UTC+3 SHATURA (Moscow Region)
Efforts to develop an electromagnetic cannon have been underway throughout the world in the past 45-50 years
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Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) president Vladimir Fortov during the tests
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS
Railgun tests
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS
Railgun tests
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS
Railgun tests
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS
Railgun tests
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS
Railgun tests
© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

SHATURA (Moscow Region), July 12. /TASS/. The tests of a railgun developed by scientists of the United Institute of High Temperatures at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) will help study matter at extremely high temperatures and pressure and understand how the Universe is organized, RAS President Vladimir Fortov said on Tuesday.

Fortov made this statement during the electromagnetic cannon’s trials at the practice range of the Shatura branch of the United Institute of High Temperatures.

Universe setup and satellites’ safety

"Our task is to try to obtain such high pressures in laboratory conditions with the help of such systems and study the behavior of matter at extremely high temperatures and pressures," Fortov told journalists.

"This is needed to understand how the Universe is organized because 95% of the Universe’s entire visible matter stays precisely in a strongly compressed and heated state. We’re trying to obtain the states of matter with many millions of atmospheres with the help of these systems," Fortov said.

"The second direction used here is the need to study the strikes by meteorites and comets against the surface of the Earth and satellites in order to protect these space vehicles from the impact of high-velocity particles," the scientist said.

"This is also an uneasy task as the strikes of celestial bodies like the Tunguska meteorite develop the velocities of dozens of kilometers per second. Therefore, one of the tasks we’re dealing with is to determine a crater shape and develop a protective system that would protect space vehicles from space debris, comets and meteorites," Fortov said.

Electromagnetic cannon

A railgun is an electromagnetic cannon using rails to accelerate a projectile through the electromagnetic effects. The pressure in the railgun is comparable with the pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench and amounts to over a thousand atmospheres.

According to Fortov, "frequently, when something goes differently from what is expected, screws are torn apart."

This is what happened on Tuesday during the demonstrative trials of a railgun at the practice range when two fastening pins broke away from the device’s bandage after a projectile weighing 2 grams was launched with a velocity of 3.2 km/s.

Nonetheless, the RAS president said that scientists were "on the right track" and the equipment was working at its maximum capacity, adding that the device would have been fully repaired by the evening.

Russian scientists are currently working on reaching the hypersonic mode of speeds. Thus, similar railguns have helped reach a speed of 11 km/s with a projectile weighing about 1.5 grams.

The efforts to develop an electromagnetic cannon have been under way throughout the world in the past 45-50 years. Today China is actively working on this technology. In particular, about 150 articles on this issue were published in China last year, Fortov said.

Intensive work in this area is also being conducted in the United States where a railgun weapon was mounted on a ship about a year ago. The United States said at the time that this technology could accelerate a projectile weighing 10-20 kg to 2.5-3 km/s, Fortov said.

As the RAS president said, the Russian Academy of Sciences is dealing only "with the physical issues," studying the destruction mechanics, which has relation to fundamental science.

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