Russian Academy of Sciences
Space Research Institute

Instrumentation for Fundamental and Applied Space Projects


Space research institute (IKI) of the Russian academy of sciences is a leading Russian institution for space exploration in the interests of fundamental sciences. The institute was established in 1965 on the basis of several space-related departments and laboratories of other organizations. In different years the institute was headed by prominent scientists, academicians G.I. Petrov, R.Z. Sagdeev, and A.A. Galeev. Since 2002 the institute is leaded by the Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor L.M. Zelenyi. The institute’s staff consists of about 1050 employees, including 306 scientists, 149 of them have candidate degree, 58 are doctors of science, and four are members of the Academy.

The Space research institute carries out scientific research and experimental development in several main directions: high energy astrophysics and radio-astronomy, exploration of planets and small bodies of the solar system, space plasma physics, remote sensing of the Earth from the space, optico-physical investigations, celestial mechanics and control systems, telecommunication networks and systems, space instrument engineering, scientific educational programs. In the frame of the projects, approved by Russian academy of sciences and included into the Federal Space Program, IKI develops research programs, designs and builds scientific instrumentation, performs data processing and analysis. Institute is also involved in programs of our Russian government organizations. The main partner of IKI in realization of large national space projects is the Lavochkin Association (NPOL), developer of most Soviet and Russian science-oriented spacecraft.

IKI photo by MSU instrument

The IKI specialists participated in a number of national (satellite series Cosmos, Prognoz, Mars, Venera, Luna, etc; manned spaceships Soyuz and orbital stations Salyut and Mir) and international (Soyuz-Apollo, ARAKS, SNEG, Raduga, Intercosmos, Aureol, VEGA, Phobos, Relikt, GRANAT, Kvant, Gamma, Interball, etc) and, especially in the latest years in foreign ESA and NASA (Mars-Odyssey, Mars-Express, Venus-Express, Cluster) space projects. Since 2002 the International gamma-ray astrophysical laboratory INTEGRAL operates on the near-Earth orbit. In this mission IKI and all other Russian scientists have ~25% quote of observational time. The INTEGRAL observations are supported by ground observations with the 1.5 m RTT150 telescope in Turkey, which is sponsored by Ministry of education and science of the Russian Federation and the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey.

Let’s briefly review future IKI projects, supported by the Russian Federal Space Program. The Phobos-Grunt project was selected as the priority of the planetary research. The project includes landing on the surface of Martian satellite Phobos, pick-up of the soil sample and it’s delivery back to Earth. The long-living autonomous station will be left on the Phobos and will continue the exploration of the Martian satellite, Mars, and interplanetary space. The main astrophysical IKI project is Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (Spectr-RG). Jointly with the Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics, Kaiser-Threde and Karl Zeiss (Germany)companies IKI creates unique instrumentation, capable, when launched on low equatorial orbit, to survey the whole sky and discover up to a million of active galactic nuclei (superheavy black holes) and up to 100 thousands of galactic clusters. This will allow to obtain information on properties of Dark Matter and evolution of Dark Energy. It is the most important problem of modern cosmology and we hope that it will be solved with the help of the Russian spacecraft.

Tests of Prognoz-10-Intercosmos spacecraft

The solar-terrestrial science Resonance project consists with two satellites on so-called magnetosynchronous orbits, allowing to make direct prolonged observations of charged particle acceleration and their resonances with plasma waves in a given magnetic flux tube in the Earth’s internal magnetosphere. Such an orbital scenario was never used before. Still actual is the problem of space weather. As the mankind masters the space, the prognosis of its state here and now becomes a necessary condition of successful practical activity in the space and on the Earth.

Several projects, related to this subject, are presently considered in IKI. First of all, the monitoring system should be multilevel. On low orbits, the ionosphere will be monitored by Chibis (Russian for lapwing) microsatellites, designed in IKI. In the internal magnetosphere and in radiation belts the satellites of the Resonance mission will be used. One more satellite should be placed at the upper floor – in the libration point at the distance of one and half millions of kilometers from the Earth. Such an arrangement provides high reliability forecasts of magnetic storms 1-2 hours before their commencement. The project Interheliozond aimed at the short-range exploration of the Sun, which is developed jointly with IZMIRAN, is considered as the more distant perspective.

IKI participates in a preparation of diverse research program at International Space Station (ISS) to be realized in 2007-2009 and later. It includes several experiments to study the ionospheric plasma interaction with the large spacecraft body; ecological monitoring of low-frequency electromagnetic emissions of anthropogenic and natural origin. The instrument BTN-2 (onboard neutron telescope) will be delivered to the station for monitoring of the Earth’s neutron albedo and the neutron component of the station radioactive background. The high sensitivity X-ray monitor will perform the regular survey of our Galaxy in the X-ray range. The goal of one more experiment RUSALKA is the experimental development of technique for carbon dioxide and methane monitoring in the atmosphere with the accuracy needed for forecasting of the global trends. Up to now no such observations aboard a spacecraft were performed.

In the field of Earth remote sensing IKI specialists developed a number of novel techniques and instruments and conducted many experiments both in optical and radio ranges. Some of them were later converted to practical applications. During the last several years IKI has been conducting numerous works on developing methods for use of Earth remote sensing spacecraft data in various applications. By now the Institute has developed specialized technology and basic software for building systems for monitoring of environment, natural and anthropogenic objects. Basing on this technology, under development now are: systems for collection, archiving and dissemination of satellite data in data centers of Russian Academy of Sciences, Meteorological Service, Russian Space Agency, Fishing Agency, Forestry Agency, Ministry of Agriculture.

A series of unique onboard instrumentation have been created for observations of the Earth and other bodies of the Solar System (Halley comet, Mars, Phobos) in visible and near-IR ranges. This experience was used during last years to construct star-tracking instruments for spacecraft attitude determination, which are used on many Russian satellites. Development of new generation cameras for Phobos-Grunt mission is now in progress.

Large vacuum chamber

Vacuum chamber with sun imitator

In addition to scientific instruments the Institute develops a wide spectrum of spacecraft service systems and supporting equipment: the data acquisition systems, control systems, miscellaneous elements of onboard equipment, ground support equipment. The experience in developing of space systems is used for manufacturing of instruments for non-space applications.

Success of conducted research programs was secured not only by the development of unique space instrumentation, but also by IKI experience in implementation of space projects at all stages from formulation of scientific goals, through design and manufacturing of equipment, performance of tests, to ballistic support of an experiment, in-flight control, management of information data flow, and data analysis. During 40 years a dedicated technical base have been created, comprising the production facilities, verification and testing site, Special Design Bureau or Space Device Engineering (SKB KP), ground control center for small spacecraft.

The verification and testing site and SKB KP facilities are used also by other academic institutions. The production facilities include 5 program-controlled machining centers of micron class accuracy. The modern equipment and special rooms for assembly operations are also available.

The Institute has his own laboratory stand facilities with unique equipment (verification and testing site) permitting to conduct qualification tests of scientific and service instrumentation for conformance with the space flight conditions. The equipment includes: the 130 cubic meters vacuum chamber, the vacuum chamber with the solar radiation simulator, the climatic test chambers, the electromagnetic compatibility stands (up to 30 MHz), the vibration and shock stands capable to imitate the white noise, the centrifuge (up to 150g). All equipment units are certified. The solar radiation simulator and the EMC stand are unique equipment for the Russian space industry.

SKP KP Tarusa

In 1986 on the basis of the institute’s production facilities in Tarusa, Kaluga region, the Special Design Bureau for Space Device Engineering have been founded as an autonomous branch of IKI RAN. SKB KP has design departments, experimental workshops and corresponding testing facilities. As a rule, the Institute’s projects are carried out in cooperation with leading specialized Russian and foreign organizations, what assures the high level of research and products.

This booklet presents some most interesting recent IKI products in the field of instrument engineering and data technology both for fundamental research and applications. Some instruments are developed for the space projects included into the Russian Federal Space Program for 2006–2015 years, while others represent the back-log for experiments in more distant future. Several examples of using the space-bound, earlier purely scientific, designs for practical applications should be specially noted.

Such an approach creates the long-time perspective for evolution of Russian space science and technology, assures the ability of our country to make adequate contribution to the perception of our cosmic environment and our place in it, and effectively participate in the global technological progress.