Novelties at International Space Station

Scientists from Belarusian State University’s Scientific-Research Institute of Applied Physical Problems develop equipment to study lightning

By Olga Levkova

The ‘Photon-Gamma’ device was successfully installed at the Russian segment of the International Space Station, this February, and is now operational as part of the Molniya-Gamma (Lightning-Gamma) experiment. It is expected that the system will help scientists study the physical nature of high discharges (lightning), providing data to ensure the safety of aircraft during thunderstorms.

The International Space Station will automatically register atmospheric gamma-ray bursts and optical emissions during thunderstorms. “The system is primarily aimed at the study of lightning at the height between clouds and the ionosphere,” explains the head of the Institute’s Department of Aerospace Research, Professor Boris Belyayev. “In future, this information can be used to monitor and forecast natural catastrophes, as seismic activity and similar catastrophes are interrelated.”

Mr. Belyayev also notes that another Belarusian device (monitoring and forecasting natural and technogenic catastrophes) is successfully operating at the International Space Station. Last year, the equipment was used in an experiment conducted simultaneously at the station, on the Earth’s surface and at the bottom of Lake Baikal (the deepest in the world).

Staff from the Scientific-Research Institute of Applied Physical Problems are now developing another system for the International Space System, fulfilling a Russian order. It will be even more modern, boasting greater functionality than the previous version.

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