The black hole-hunting telescope eROSITA was switched off. It launched in 2019 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Russian-built Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma satellite. The mission was jointly funded in part by Russia’s Roscosmos and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Although the ISS partnership was always considered more important than politics, it has been under threat from Russia’s rapidly growing aggression against Ukraine.. Russia has previously stated that it does not intend to collaborate with Western countries in space exploration efforts beyond the ISS.
Germany has ceased all scientific cooperation with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, but work on space stations continues. After Germany protested the invasion of Ukraine, Germany cut all scientific cooperation with Russia and shut down the German-built space telescope mapping black holes in the universe.
Germany worked previously with Russia in the Bion M mission. This mission sent 45 mice, several lizards, fish, and snail species on a one-month space trip.
Space.com spoke with the spokesperson for Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who revealed that the telescope was “placed in safe mode during ground communication on Saturday, February 26.”
What is eROSITA?
eROSITA is the primary instrument from the Russian-German “Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma” (SRG) mission that was previously launched from Baikonur on July 13, 2019. It was placed put in a halo orbit around the L2 point.
One of the most intriguing questions in physics and astronomy today is the nature of Dark Energy. This mysterious force is driving the Universe apart. It could be vacuum energy (corresponding to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity), or a time-varying field of energy. This question could be the beginning of a fundamental revolution within physics. The telescope aims to increase our knowledge on black holes in general.
The future of eROSITA
CNES, Europe’s spaceport operator in Kourou (French Guiana), is currently investigating the possibility of replacing Russia’s Soyuz rocket with one of several European governmental missions using Europe’s own Vega and Ariane 5. This includes the launch of two navigation satellites from the European constellation Galileo (an equal to the U.S. GPS), which was scheduled for later in the year.