Space

Russian "lighthouse" satellite enters orbit

Russian "lighthouse" satellite...
An artist's rendition of Mayak, a Russian CubeSat that was just launched
An artist's rendition of Mayak, a Russian CubeSat that was just launched
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An artist's rendition of Mayak, a Russian CubeSat that was just launched
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An artist's rendition of Mayak, a Russian CubeSat that was just launched

Look upwards tonight and you might just see a new "star" streaking across the sky. A Russian CubeSat called Mayak (meaning "lighthouse") was successfully launched on Friday, and is set to be one of the brightest objects in the night sky.

At 9:36 am local time on July 14, Mayak was launched from Baikonur spaceport aboard a Soyuz 2.1a rocket. The satellite entered orbit a few hours later, at 12:10 pm, and shortly after that the sun reflector was unfolded.

This reflector, in the shape of a 3 m (9.8 ft) tall pyramid, is there to achieve two of Mayak's main scientific goals. Made of a thin reflective metallized membrane, the pyramid is designed to catch the sun's rays and reflect the light back to Earth, which the team says makes it the second brightest object in the night sky behind the Moon. That allows Mayak to be used as a reference object to help measure the apparent magnitude, or brightness, of satellites.

The second goal is to increase drag on the satellite. That sounds like something you'd normally want to avoid, but in this case the team is testing a new space-brakes system designed to help Mayak deorbit faster and burn up as it reenters Earth's atmosphere. If the system works, it could be applied as a disposal method for other satellites to help declutter low-Earth orbit, which is currently full of old space junk that poses an increasing hazard.

To help stargazers track Mayak's journey and know when to crane their necks upwards, the team has released an Android app, with an iOS version to follow. Unfortunately though, there's no English translation just yet, so if you're interested in catching a glimpse you'll have to either brush up on your Russian or use another satellite tracking service, like N2YO.

Mayak will stay in orbit for one month, before it begins its descent.

Source: Cosmo Mayak [1],[2]

6 comments
The 1 TaiN
Sounds like the Russian Space Corps is up to some Mischief!/? Either to Deflect a Laser Beam to Blind and/or Destroy the "Optics" of a Test Satellite...
CharlieSeattle
Use the new laser to target and destroy space junk. Better yet, make it a live video game with a bounty and 11 year olds will do the job in under a year.
MattHill
The application requires a code to start that is only supplied if you are a crowdfunder for the project or are willing to apply for a Russian bank card. I don't know Russian, this was difficult to assert but it is correct.
Wolf0579
I would not download ANY Russian software to my phone, and you won't either... unless you are a totally stupid republican traitor.
dougspair
...Well, the recent launch from New Zealand of the RocketX 'disco ball', is supposedly the next brightest, after the moon...? I'm waiting to see if either one is actually visible......I've seen the ISS a couple times by accident, just walking out my front door and looking up...!
alibekt
Guys, they orbited Mayak, but the reflector didn't unfold.