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Russians Want to Use Nanosats to Predict Earthquakes

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
November 21, 2010
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The Roscosmos website features a very interesting news item about a Russian plan to use nanosats to help predict earthquakes.

RIA Novosti quotes Russian Space Systems company director Yury Urlichich as saying that an “earthquake precursor monitoring system” that would include a constellation of nanosats to monitor “special vibrations in the ionosphere [that] can be used to detect the quake.”

Although the article doesn’t say so explicitly, the program appears to be part of the international global natural and industrial emergency aerospace monitoring system (IGMAS) that Russian officials promoted during a heads of space agencies summit in Washington last week. IGMAS program manager and Director of Space Systems R&D Valery Menschikov made a presentation about the system during the gathering, which was sponsored by the  International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

A Roscosmos press release describes the effort:

IGMAS presents an initiative by Russian scientists and public organizations actively promoted on the global level and supported by IAA. The distinguishing feature of IGMAS is defined as warning of the world community about global threats, including hazards from the space objects.

The Project covers detection of natural disaster precursors through special space, aviation and ground systems. Such phenomena become evident as geosphere’s anomalies and provide the opportunity to predict catastrophic events of geological or meteorological nature.  [My emphasis]

According to Menschikov, one of the plenary presentations at the Summit was about IGMAS.

Delegation of the Russian Federal Space Agency at the Summit was led by Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov. Questioned by news media, Perminov stated that IGMAS project proposed by Russia as an international initiative, has “good prospective”. “IGMAS implementation, together with similar international systems GEOSS and UN’s SPYDER, is in line with the priorities of Russia’s foreign policy.”

Menschikov added that the Declaration signed by the Heads at the Summit also covers development of disaster management systems, thus confirming the need to develop the global system.

Another item on the Roscosmos website, also via RIA Novosti,  describes what appears to be another part of IGMAS:

  • A hazardous object monitoring system consisting of sensors installed on dams, bridges and similar structures that can be monitored by the GLONASS satellite constellation. The system is designed to help prevent industrial disasters.

In related news, Roscosmos official Valery Zaichko told Interfax-AVN that Russia is developing a united territory-distributed data system (UTDS) that will include the establishment of five to six remote sensing centers in major Russian cities. The goal is to acquire, process and distribute remote sensing images in a more unified and consistent manner across a country that lacks common technology and storage formats.