Astron

Astron was a Soviet spacecraft launched on 23 March 1983 at 12:45:06 UTC, using Proton launcher, which was designed to fulfill an astrophysics mission. It was based on the Venera spacecraft design and was operational for six years as the largest ultraviolet space telescope during its lifetime. The spacecraft was designed and constructed by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory and the Lavochkin Association.

The spacecraft was over 6m long, and its main instrument was Soviet-French 5m long UV telescope. The station ceased function in June 1989, well past its expected one year mission lifetime. The second major experiment aboard Astron was an X-ray spectrometer. The experiment, SKR-02M, consisted of a proportional counter sensitive to 2-25 keV.X-rays, with an effective area of 0.17 sq-m. The field of view was 3 degrees × 3 degrees (FWHM). Data could be telemetered in 10 energy channels. The instrument began taking data on 3 April 1983.

The satellite was put into a highly elliptical orbit, with apogee ~200,000 km and perigee ~ 2,000 km. The orbit kept the craft far away from the Earth for 3.5 out of every 4 days. It was outside of the Earth's shadow and radiation belts for 90% of the time.

Among the most important observations by Astron were those of the SN 1987A supernova on March 4–12, 1987 and of Halley's Comet in December, 1985, that allowed a group of scientists to develop a model of he coma surrounding Halley's Comet.

Spectral observations were obtained for more then a hundred stars of various types, about 30 galaxies, tens nebulas and several comets. This experiment provided data on the prolonged low state of Her X-1 in 1983, and the 1984 turn on of the source. It also observed sources in Orion, Taurus and Leo. The investigation of accretion of material from red giants to neutron stars was specifically targeted.

 Use the link to download the Astron book.