The Earth’s atmosphere is “a target” for different types of space radiation.
One of them – cosmic rays – charged particles of the solar, galactic and extragalactic origin. In the atmosphere high energy particles produce cascades of the secondary particles – giant air (or Auger) showers, which can provide us information about the primary particles’ parameters. But there are not only charged particles in the Universe. Gamma-radiation of the Universe and first the most energetic phenomena – gamma-bursts are a subject of heavy coverage of the scientist today. Gamma-bursts also produce their “response” in the atmosphere in the form of Сherenkov radiation. But “bombarding” of the atmosphere by particles is not limited by these two processes. We must take into account that the Earth’s radiation belts – the charged particles trapped by the magnetic field, can disappear, precipitate from the magnetic trap into the Earth’s atmosphere, producing in it extensive regions of ionization. The energy of the radiation belt particles is sufficiently high, for instance, there are relativistic electrons with energy of several MeV among them, which can penetrate deep in the atmosphere and by rate of ionization can easily compete against Auger showers. Besides space factors physical processes near the Earth’s surface also have an effect on the atmosphere. A demonstrative example of it are recently discovered “transient luminous phenomena” and “the Earth gamma-bursts”. Their nature is probably associated with atmospheric electricity phenomena. Studies of the described above phenomena is the main goal of the “Lomonosov” satellite.
The project includes the following scientific equipment installation on-board the satellite intended for the following problems studies:
- The studies of the cosmic rays of the extremely high energy (1019 -1020 eV) near the energetic spectrum cut-off, predicted by Greisen, Zatsepin and Kuzmin (GZK cut-off).
- The studies of the space gamma-bursts – the most energetic processes in the Universe within the optical and gaama ranges.
- The studies of the transient luminous phenomena in the upper atmosphere, started during the previous MSU space projects “Universitetsky – Tatiana” and “Universitetsky – Tatiana – 2”.
- The studies of the magnetospheric particles – the possible sources of the transient and quazi-stationary phenomena in the upper atmosphere within the X-ray and optical ranges.
Actual applied studies will be also carried on-board the satellite, including approval of the complex for the space automatic following of the small nebular bodies, asteroids and spacecrafts and the experiment on the optimization of the onboard navigation system.