Russian scientists have tested a mock-up of a unique telescope called Radioastron that could revolutionize space exploration, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a pro-governmental daily, reported. America's Hubble Space Telescope is almost "blind" in comparison to Radioastron because its resolution exceeds Hubble's by nearly one million times.
Hubble operates in the optical mode, but Radioastron uses radio waves. Each telescope therefore has its own astronomic applications. Not a single other telescope can provide such high-resolution images of space objects in the Milkyway or elsewhere. Radioastron's resolution exceeds that of the human eye 20 million times over.
"Our telescope's antenna has a diameter of just ten meters. In real life, its dimensions equal the distance between the Earth and the Moon," said Nikolai Kardashev, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and project co-manager.
Once in orbit, Radioastron will observe space objects in conjunction with ground telescopes. They will form a vast observation system measuring 350,000 km in diameter. Its resolving power far exceeds that of single telescopes.
The new observatory will monitor black holes that absorb matter, but that do not emit light. It will also watch high-density neutron stars. Radioastron will also try to solve the black-matter riddle. Visible stars and planets account for only 5% of the universe's mass. The remainder of the universe remains unknown.
The new super-telescope will also study terrestrial phenomena. It will analyze Earth's gravitational field and complete a three-dimensional model. This will ensure high-precision navigation. It will also observe continental drifts.