A Space Telescope Goes Dark

Image (Credit): Picture of the completely integrated mirrors and detectors before final packaging. (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics)

You may have heard of Germany’s black hole-hunting telescope called the extended ROentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Arraye (eROSITA). It was launched in 2019 as part of a larger Russian-German mission called the “Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma” (SRG) observatory and placed in the L2 Lagrange Point.

The eROSITA has three primary goals:

  • to detect the hot intergalactic medium of 50-100 thousand galaxy clusters and groups and hot gas in filaments between clusters to map out the large scale structure in the Universe for the study of cosmic structure evolution,
  • to detect systematically all obscured accreting Black Holes in nearby galaxies and many (up to 3 Million) new, distant active galactic nuclei and
  • to study in detail the physics of galactic X-ray source populations, like pre-main sequence stars, supernova remnants and X-ray binaries.

Well, similar to other joint Russian space missions, the telescope’s work was put on hold because of continuing events in Ukraine. The German government had this to say:

[Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)] and the German Space Agency at DLR have been cooperating with Russian institutions on a number of research projects, in some cases with the participation of other German research organisations and universities, and international partners.

Against the backdrop of the aggressive attack on Ukraine, the DLR Executive Board is taking the following measures:

  • All collaboration activities with Russian institutions on current projects or projects in the planning stage will be terminated.
  • There will be no new projects or initiatives with institutions in Russia.

Where necessary, DLR will enter into coordination with other national and international partners.

We are slowly blocking our view of the bigger universe because of the reckless actions of a few. Hopefully, we can open up our eyes again shortly.