Thursday, 24 April 2014

Czech satellite technology to help forecast earthquakes

18 January 2013

Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) - The instruments manufactured in the Czech Republic that will be on board the satellites to be launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in the spring are to help forecast earthquakes and look for extraterrestrial life, Jan Kolar told CTK yesterday.

Kolar, director of the Czech Space Office (CKK), said these were some of the most important projects with the involvement of Czech scientists.

In April, the Proba-V satellite will carry the Timepix detectors able to measure space radiation, Kolar said.

They can also help find materials with a high content of hydrogen in space, which may be of vital importance in the search for water and extraterrestrial life, he added.

At the end of May and beginning of June, the take-off of three Swarm satellites is planned. They will carry Czech micro accelerometres to observe the Earth's magnetic field, Kolar said.

The detectors are to help forecast earthquakes and to understand oceanic currents.

Fifteen Czech companies headed by the Aerospace Research and Test Establishment (VZLU) took part in the preparation of the equipment for the Swarm mission.

"The micro accelerometres for Swarm are the biggest project of the development of aviation hardware in which the Czech Republic has cooperated along with the ESA," Kolar said.

The Timepix detectors have been used by the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) since July 2012.

The instruments mainly monitor cosmic radiation doses to which astronauts are exposed.

Timepix was developed by scientists from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Czech experts from the The Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics of Czech Technical University in Prague then transferred the equipment in the form of a compact instrument the astronauts can attach to their notebook via the USB port.

The project, within which the detectors will be sent by the satellite to the space in spring, is to reveal how Timepix can be used for future missions.

Besides, the detectors are to help observe space weather elements such as space radiation and solar winds.

This is to happen within the programme Space Situational Awareness the Czech Republic joined last November.

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