The Czech scientific satellite Mimosa was successfully launched on Monday from the Russian cosmodrome Plesetsk to a low Earth orbit. The main goal of the mission is to study the atmospheric density that affects low flying satellites, causing them to burn up as they finally re-enter the atmosphere. The whole project was financed through a mutual agreement between the Czech Republic and Russia as part of the repayment of Russia's large debt to the country. Mirna Solic reports:
It's been the first day after the Czech satellite was launched from the Russian platform Rokot, as one among 9 international satellites. The entire Czech team who worked on the project is now in Russia, except Ales Bezdek from the Institute of Astronomy at the Czech Academy of Science who told Radio Prague about the scientific aims and the structure of the satellite:
"It should be there for about five years, because we'll study the atmospheric density, and fly at altitudes where it's the most dense, that means between 200 and 800 km above the Earth. The only scientific tool on the satellite is an accelerometer which measures non-gravitational force."
The construction and launch of the satellite Mimosa cost some $ 1,000,000 USD which will be deducted from the Russian debt to the Czech Republic. The Czech side, however, says that the launch of the satellite into orbit would have been possible even without that money, which doesn't seem to be the main factor in Czech and Russian astronomic and scientific cooperation:
"The launch of Mimosa wasn't dependent directly on the Russian debt. The satellite would have been launched even if there had been no Russian debt. It was good that we got the money from that agreement, but in any case, the satellite would have been launched. We will continue our cooperation, and there will be some other projects."
What remains now for the team is to wait for five years, to examine and analyze the signals coming from the satellite. In the meantime, Czech astronomers have announced further projects and cooperation, this time with partners in the European Union:
"We'll work hard, we'll wait for the signal from the satellite, we'll work on it for another 5 years and maybe longer. There'll be more accelerometers produced, and they'll fly on other satellites, as part of the European Cosmic Agency."
The satellite Mimosa is built by the Czech company Space Devices. It will be controlled from the ground facility at Panska Ves, situated in the northern part of the Czech Republic. For more information about the Czech satellite Mimosa see the web-site of Astronomical Institute of Czech Academy of Science, at http://www.asu.cas.cz .
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