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Russian Spektr-RG telescope to continue observations while German one is off

The German side gave no indications of when the work may be resumed, the scientific head of the project, Rashid Syunyayev noted

MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/. Russia’s ART-XC telescope of the Spektr-RG space observatory will continue its observations while Germany’s eROSITA telescope is off, the scientific head of the project, Rashid Syunyayev, has told TASS.

"Russian scientists are discussing the program of Spektr-RG’s further work in the situation when ART-XC became its main instrument," he said. "Now we have an opportunity to use ART-XC for something which is of particular interest to the scientific team <…> without having to coordinate every move with the eROSITA team,"Syunyayev said.

In his words, the German side gave no indications of when the work may be resumed.

"Spektr-RG’s life span was estimated at six years at least. Two and a half of them have already passed, maybe even slightly more. I do hope that the situation would improve and eROSITA would resume its operations before the life span of the spacecraft <…> expires," he said.

During the two and a half years of its work, Spektr-RG conducted four full scans out of the eight planned, one third of the fifth scan has also been completed.

On Saturday, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin said on the YouTube channel Solovyov Live that the German side had sent a notification it was turning off its telescope of the Spektr-RG space laboratory.

Spektr-RG is a joint Russian-German project with a goal "to map all massive structures in the observable Universe in X-rays," making "an all-sky survey… with unprecedented spectral and angular resolution," Roscosmos said earlier.

The spacecraft built at the Lavochkin research and production association comprises two telescopes: eRosita made by the Max Planck Institute for Extra-Terrestrial Physics (Germany) and ART-XC developed by the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and manufactured by the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov.

In late October 2019, the spacecraft reached its working location at a Lagrange point (a point of equal impact of gravitational and centrifugal forces) of the Sun-Earth system located at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth. This point is well suited for lengthy observations of the entire sky because the Sun, the Earth and the Moon will always stay on one side from the spacecraft.