Short Overview

"Millimetron" observatory ("Spektr-M" project) is a 10 meter space telescope aimed at solving a wide range of astronomical problems in the wavelength range from far-infrared to millimeter. The observatory will be put into orbit by a Proton (Angara-5) rocket carrier from the Baikonur cosmodrome. “Millimetron” orbit will lie in the vicinity of L2 Lagrange point in the anti-Sun direction, at a distance of about 1.5 million km from the Earth.

"Millimetron" observatory is one of the representative samples of the new generation space observatories, as in the number of new technologies that are required for its creation, as well as in the primary mirror size. It will serve to all the astronomers from around the world, helping to get answers to urgent questions science is facing today. The study of the Universe early stages of formation, black holes and their surroundings, star forming regions, quasars, pulsars, planets and their evolution, and many other objects – all this can be done using the "Millimetron" observatory.

"Spektr-M" – an international project led by the Russian Space Agency. In the development and creation are involved the key scientific and industrial centers of the aerospace industry in Russia, such as “ISS Reshetnev”, Lavochkin Association, Russian Space Systems, and many others, as well as a number of foreign organizations.

"Spektr-M" spacecraft consists of two parts: on-board scientific equipment, responsible for solving the scientific mission objectives and the underlying platform for service systems, which is selected as the "Navigator", developed in Lavochkin Association for scientific spacecraft. The latter will be responsible for the observatory control and the data transmission to the ground.

During the observatory development in Russia a completely new technologies were created. Some of them are used in the primary mirror development. Primary mirror consists of a 3 meter in diameter solid central part and 72 individual segments, which unfold in space and allow you to adjust the mirror shape after hatching and cooling it down to very low temperatures (less than 10K). All mirror elements will be made from high modulus carbon fiber, which ensures low weight and high stiffness required for operation in space. Simultaneously, the carbon fiber has a low coefficient of linear thermal expansion, which is an important factor in developing mirrors, which operate at very low temperatures. Another feature of “Millimetron” is the sun screens mad of film, the size of which has a diameter of about 20 meters. Their main task – to reduce the heat flow going from the Sun side towards to the telescope mirror system in order to lower its temperature to about 50K. Telescope mirror system and part of the ultra-sensitive infrared detectors will be cooled down to the lower temperatures by an active cooling system, which is based on a closed cycle space cryo refrigerators. Simultaneous use of cooled mirror and ultra-sensitive receivers will allow astronomers to conduct research of weak cosmic sources, the signal level of which is close to the level of the natural sky background in these wavelengths.

“Millimetron” will be capable to operate in two different modes: as a super-sensitive 10-meter singled dish space telescope, and as the space segment of the space-ground radio interferometer with very long baselines to obtain an unprecedented angular resolution. In other words, the 10-meter space telescope will operate simultaneously for one source with one or more ground-based telescopes with accurate observations timeline reference. To achieve this goal especially for “Millimetron” project unique space hydrogen frequency standards with unique reference signal stability and purity are being developed.

“Millimetron” space observatory scientific payload a high-resolution spectrometer, matrix spectrometers (receivers) and a medium-resolution heterodyne receivers, which are necessary for the implementation of space-ground radio interferometer. Each of these instruments is aimed at addressing a number of fundamental objectives in the field of the interstellar medium, star forming regions, the evolution of galaxies, extra solar planets, black holes, etc.