R. I. P. Spektr-R

Spektr-R Spektr-R (37755, 2011-037A) is a Russian radiotelescope spacecraft in a very high orbit around the Earth. It's orbit is cis-lunar with an apoapsis of about 300 000 km.

From this answer:


From Wikipedia:

Spektr-R's orbit allows it to get as far from Earth as possible in order to produce a long baseline for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)

Spektr-R (or RadioAstron) is a Russian scientific satellite with a 10 m (33 ft) radio telescope on board. It was launched on 18 July 2011,[7] by Zenit-3F launcher, from Baikonur Cosmodrome to perform research on the structure and dynamics of radio sources within and beyond our galaxy. Together with some of the largest ground-based radio telescopes, this telescope forms interferometric baselines extending up to 350,000 km (220,000 mi).

@BowlofRed's answer links to Radioastron User Handbook which is full of goodies.

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I've used it in an example in the (currently unanswered) question What is the largest antenna deployed in space?

Currently Spektr-R is in the news because of a technical issue, (as is and was recently Hubble) but this question is about the years of observational radioastronomy that has been done.

Question: What are Spectr-R's major contributions to radio astronomy that could not have been done from Earth?

The answer would not have to be as elaborate as @Hobbes' answer to What kind of ground-based radio astronomy is NASA's DSN used for? Who are the PIs?

  • $\begingroup$ Seems like it would better be asked on astronomy.stackexchange.com . $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Jan 14, 2019 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @horsh It's a toss-up because my question focusses on the history of a specific satellite with a particularly interesting orbit, and considering I received such an excellent answer to this question here, I decided to ask this particular question here. I have plenty of radio astronomy questions in Astronomy SE as well and have some idea which questions do and don't get answered there. If your experience there is different, let me know. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 14, 2019 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ The Spectr-R satellite is apparently no longer functioning: bbc.com/news/world-europe-46849347 $\endgroup$
    – 42-
    Apr 18, 2019 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @42- Thanks! It seems that's the same article I've linked to in the question, and probably what induced me to ask the question the next day. Nonetheless you've convinced me to ask How is Spektr-R doing? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 18, 2019 at 23:45


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