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    University World News / 01 September 2017
    Government steps up funding for elite universities
    • Eugene Vorotnikov
    В 2018-2020 гг. российское правительство собирается увеличить финансирование программы 5-100 (направленной на то, чтобы пять российских университетов вошли в число сотни лучших в мире), признав, что из-за недофинансирования и сокращения бюджета возникли серьезные проблемы.

The Russian government is stepping up its funding of the 5-100 programme aimed at getting five universities into the global top 100 in international rankings, conceding that it has faced significant challenges due to underfunding and budget cuts.
As a result, funding of the promotion of Russian universities in the global arena will grow from RUB34.8 billion (US$599 million) to RUB43.5 billion (US$749 million) during the period 2018-20, according to a recent draft decree, prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science.
The aim is to increase the competitiveness of Russian universities in the global market and amounts to recognition of the substantial challenges they face.
Currently, the 5-100 programme involves the participation of 21 universities. Its main goal is entering five national universities into the world's top 100 universities as ranked by QS, Times Higher Education and the Academic Ranking of World Universities or ARWU.
So far, only Moscow State University has been included in the rankings of QS and ARWU, but it is not part of the 5-100 programme. The government is unhappy with the implementation of the programme so far, conceding that it is suffering from inadequate funding, and has responded by reaching into its coffers to provide more funds.
Olga Vasilieva, the Russian education and science minister, said: "The 5-100 project is heavily underfunded. In addition, due to the economic crisis in Russia, its budget was reduced by 6% last year. However, the government will do everything possible to increase its funding."
According to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the increase in funding is as a result of the need to support scientific projects and research and development studies at domestic universities and keep "the world's leading scientists" within their teaching staff.
A spokesperson for the department of higher education in the ministry said many leading scientists working at domestic universities regularly receive very attractive proposals from the administrations of some Western universities to continue their work abroad.
In addition to enjoying better financial conditions, Russian scientists and professors may find working in these universities, many of which are in leading positions in the global rankings, more prestigious than in domestic higher education institutions.
However, it is hoped that the provision of additional funding will help to raise the salaries of domestic scientists and speed up implementation of the entire project. Among the other goals of the programme are technical re-equipment; improvement in cooperation with foreign universities; increased promotion of Russian universities in leading foreign media, as well as recruitment of foreign students.
In the meantime, despite its ambitious targets, the programme has been criticised by some leading Russian officials and members of the Russian national parliament or State Duma.
Widening the gap
Oleg Smolin, first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education and Science, said the increase in funding for the 5-100 programme widens the gap between the budgets of Russian universities.
He said the programme "lacks medical and agricultural universities" - although it does include one medical university - and that the overall budget of the 5-100 programme "is still too small to allow Russian universities to compete with the world's leading higher education institutions in the international arena".
The approach to the distribution of additional subsidies between universities that participate in the programme, will change. It is planned that the amount of state funding provided will depend on special 'road maps' that will be submitted by these universities for consideration by the programme and ratification by the Russian government.
Depending on the quality of the 'road map', each university will receive a coefficient that will be used in the formula for calculating the allocation of funding. Each year universities will have to report on the implementation of their road map as a condition for receiving further funding.
Philip Altbach, founding director of the Center for International Higher Education, Boston College in the United States, who is a member of the 5-100 programme committee, told University World News that the committee recognises that the problems are substantial but that a number of the participating universities have made "considerable progress in reforming governance, internationalisation, and improving their research output".

Copyright University World News 2007-2014.
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    Phys.Org / September 5, 2017
    Russian ecologists say Nord Stream 2 damages precious refuge
    Экологи утверждают, что российский газопровод Северный поток-2 для транспортировки газа в Европу (Нарвский залив - Грайфсвальд), который планируется проложить через территорию Кургальского заповедника, нанесет ущерб природе, и настаивают на альтернативной трассе.

Russian environmentalists on Tuesday said the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will funnel Russian gas to Europe threatens a coastal Baltic refuge that is home to rare animals and birds. "The Nord Stream 2 project through the Kurgalsky reserve is unacceptable. Construction is impossible without inflicting environmental damage," Mikhail Kreindlin, an ecologist with Greenpeace Russia, told a news conference in Saint-Petersburg.
The Kurgalsky refuge is about 600 square kilometres (230 square miles) of protected land and sea including the Kurgalsky peninsula in the Gulf of Finland, located about 20 kilometres from Russia's border with Estonia.
The sanctuary was established to protect the coastal landscape as well as nesting colonies of migratory shorebirds and habitats of seals, including the Baltic ringed seal, a species declining in the Gulf due to climate change.
Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to lay the 1,200-km Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea to the German coast near Greifswald, where it would connect to the European gas transport networks.
The company held hearings for the proposed route, which crosses the territory of the protected territory and goes west through the Bay of Narva. "Nord Stream does not negatively impact the environment, including the Kurgalsky reserve," Nord Stream 2, the company behind the project, insists.
Vladimir Khrabry, an ornithologist with the Russian Academy of Scientists, however, disagreed. "This is an outstanding territory from the point of view of biodiversity," he said at the news conference.
Environmentalists say that the company didn't conduct the necessary studies, choosing the route for economic reasons, and played down the value of the refuge, which has 250 species of birds, according to Greenpeace.
"Nord Stream should be constructed, but they have to find an alternative route which would not go through the protected zone of Kurgalsky refuge. It's possible," said environmentalist Alexander Sutyagin, who heads the NGO Monitoring BTS, which monitors the Baltic pipeline system.
Gazprom is building Nord Stream 2 in cooperation with Anglo-Dutch Shell, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, Austria's OMV and France's Englie.
The project bypassing conflict-torn Ukraine and also Poland would double the flow of the Nord Stream pipeline currently linking Germany and Russia.

© Phys.org 2003-2017, Science X network.
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    Les Echos / Le 05/09/2017
    Le « Tchernobyl flottant » de Mourmansk bientôt évacué
    • Benjamin Quenelle
    27 июня в бухте Губа Андреева, недалеко от Мурманска, начался демонтаж «атомного кладбища» - остатков бывшей базы советского Северного флота, одного из самых радиационно-опасных объектов на северо-западе России. Ядерное топливо сливается и вывозится на утилизацию, корабли и подлодки разбираются. Всего работа может занять от 6 до 10 лет.

Cet été a commencé le transport pour traitement des premiers assemblages de combustibles nucléaires entassés sur l'ex-base de la flotte soviétique, près de Mourmansk. Un chantier de 260 millions d'euros, financé en partie par la France.
Par leur beauté froide et primitive, les mélancoliques paysages de toundra sur la route vers la baie d'Andreyeva glacent autant que la menace nucléaire qui a longtemps plané sur cette région du Grand Nord russe. Dans son film « Léviathan », le réalisateur Andreï Zviaguintsev avait saisi avec maestria ce minéral décor côtier de la mer de Barents, terrifiant et magnifique. A quelques kilomètres des plages du tournage, loin des scènes de ce drame sur un homme luttant contre la corruption pour garder sa maison, un combat est mené depuis plus de deux décennies contre un autre monstre : le cimetière de sous-marins, réacteurs, combustibles et autres divers déchets radioactifs, laissé par l'URSS, qui aurait pu dégénérer en cataclysme nucléaire. « Personne ne se souvient plus aujourd'hui de ce qu'il y avait ici il y a vingt ans », insiste Alexandre Nikitine, cet ancien officier de sous-marin soviétique transformé en défenseur de l'environnement. Depuis le début des années 1990, il se bat pour le démantèlement, sur la baie d'Andreyeva, des restes de l'ex-base soviétique de la flotte du Nord, qui, près du légendaire port de Mourmansk, dépendait du combustible nucléaire pour ses moteurs et ses armements. Une flotte longtemps laissée à l'abandon avant même la chute de l'URSS, même si la fermeture officielle date de 1992. « Un Tchernobyl flottant », résume Alexandre Nikitine.
La Norvège particulièrement concernée
Son action pour le transfert des déchets radioactifs accumulés a, cet été, connu un tournant : depuis le 27 juin, les combustibles de la base sont évacués pour traitement. Ce jour-là, sous le faible soleil polaire de la baie d'Andreyeva, aux sons d'une fanfare militaire, des discours politiques et des cris de quelques mouettes égarées dans le crachin, le bateau spécialement conçu pour cette inédite opération d'évacuation est parti. Avec, à son bord, le premier chargement.
A terme, 22.000 assemblages de combustibles doivent être transportés jusqu'à l'usine de traitement des déchets nucléaires de Maïak, située sur un site sécurisé dans l'Oural. Un transfert de 3.000 kilomètres effectué en bateau jusqu'à Mourmansk, puis, à travers la Russie, dans un train spécial. Le premier convoi est arrivé le mercredi 16 août.
« Un monde avec un cimetière nucléaire en moins ! Des décennies d'efforts, aujourd'hui, viennent d'être récompensées », se réjouit Alexandre Nikitine, qui travaille pour Bellona, une fondation écologiste norvégienne très active à Mourmansk. La Norvège est particulièrement concernée car sa frontière se trouve à quelque 50 kilomètres de la base. Mais ce travail, mené à Oslo et par quelques écologistes audacieux en Russie, a été longtemps mal vu par les autorités moscovites.
En 1996, Alexandre Nikitine a même été accusé et emprisonné pour espionnage après avoir révélé des informations sur le mauvais état de la base, notamment à la suite de l'accident de 1982 dans l'une des piscines de stockage. Il a été depuis acquitté. Fait impensable du temps de l'URSS, lorsque toute cette zone polaire était fermée, de nombreux drapeaux occidentaux flottaient pour le premier départ des assemblages de combustibles. Sous toutefois un strict contrôle militaire. Au loin, de l'autre côté de la baie, sont stationnés des sous-marins en activité et, ce jour-là, l'armée veillait à ce que personne dans la foule ne zoome dans leur direction.
Au-delà de ces vieilles méfiances, le « nettoyage» du cimetière nucléaire de la baie d'Andreyeva est avant tout l'aboutissement d'une longue coopération internationale. Lors de la cérémonie, les Russes ne cachaient d'ailleurs pas leur soulagement. « Une étape a été franchie. Grâce à une infrastructure technologique unique au monde, qui permet d'agir en toute sécurité », s'est félicité Oleg Kroukov, directeur du département déclassement de Rosatom, le géant nucléaire russe.
Il a évalué à 18 milliards de roubles (quelque 260 millions d'euros) le coût de ce vaste chantier. Un budget couvert en partie par la Russie, qui paie les frais opérationnels, et en partie par les aides occidentales, qui financent les programmes spécifiques. La facture a été partiellement réglée par la BERD (Banque européenne pour la reconstruction et le développement) avec l'Union européenne et plusieurs pays occidentaux (Allemagne, Canada, Danemark, Finlande, France, Norvège, Royaume-Uni...).
« Dès le début, les Russes avaient conscience de l'ampleur du problème mais n'avaient ni les moyens ni les finances pour le résoudre », se souvient Jane Smith-Briggs, chargée des dossiers nucléaires à la BERD, qui est venue en moyenne cinq fois par an sur le site depuis quinze ans. « Ici, lors de ma première visite, c'était comme un site en ruine après les bombes, avec des débris radioactifs partout. Certains murs pourtant très épais gisaient, détruits. Des véhicules traînaient, abandonnés », décrit-elle.
La BERD a donné 165 millions d'euros pour la rénovation des infrastructures, un fonds spécial dont la France a été le principal contributeur avec 40 millions. « C'est un bel et rare exemple de bonne coopération internationale ! Ce programme a été préservé des tensions politiques », s'enthousiasme Pierre Heilbronn, vice-président français de la BERD, présent à la cérémonie du 27 juin, qui était le premier haut officiel de la banque à venir en Russie depuis trois ans et le début du gel de tout nouveau programme du fait des sanctions prises contre Moscou dans le cadre de la crise ukrainienne.
La méfiance des Russes
En dix ans de coopération, les installations dangereusement en ruine ont été remplacées par de nouvelles infrastructures aux normes internationales, sécurisées, propres et bien organisées. Dans le bâtiment où a commencé l'évacuation des premiers combustibles, tout se fait avec des robots télécommandés. Les assemblages sont extraits un par un, afin d'éviter une réaction en chaîne, puis regroupés en d'immenses tubes pesant 45 tonnes. Une opération lourde et complexe menée par du personnel russe, 70 spécialistes formés dans le cadre de cette coopération. Dans la salle des contrôles, tous les boutons sont au vert. Prêts à parer à toute éventualité, les boutons rouges n'ont jamais dû être activés. Et, autour, les appareils de mesure de radioactivité n'enregistrent aucun niveau anormal.
« Un succès ! Mais les premiers pas avaient été difficiles », se rappelle Ingar Amundsen, l'un des représentants des autorités norvégiennes de la sécurité nucléaire invités à la cérémonie. Dès 1997, Oslo avait envoyé sa première aide pour assurer la protection de la piscine de stockage dangereusement endommagée par l'accident de 1982 et éviter des fuites. « Nous avions alors été contraints de donner de l'argent sans pouvoir venir sur le terrain. Seule assurance possible : les photos prises par les Russes et envoyées en retour pour prouver que des mesures avaient été prises. Ils étaient méfiants », raconte Ingar Amundsen. Depuis, la confiance mutuelle s'est renforcée et Oslo a multiplié les programmes bilatéraux, contrôlant le déclassement, gérant les données sur la radioactivité, construisant les nouvelles routes, posant les barrières de protection... et contribuant au final pour 30 millions d'euros.
Aides bilatérales
Parallèles au soutien de la BERD, ces aides bilatérales se sont multipliées au fil des ans. La France a envoyé au début des ingénieurs d'Areva et fourni l'énorme engin transportant sur place les assemblages évacués, conçu sur mesure par la société Nicolas. L'Italie a construit le bateau, pareillement unique en son genre, pour transférer ces déchets du site jusqu'au port de Mourmansk. Le Royaume-Uni, lui, a oeuvré en amont et participé au démontage des bâtiments en ruine. Des programmes donnant-donnant : transferts de compétences et matériels pour la Russie, contrats pour les entreprises européennes impliquées.
L'évacuation devrait s'étaler sur six ans. Pour le moment, l'opération est relativement facile, se concentrant sur le combustible stocké en profondeur dans les bâtiments désormais recouverts et sécurisés. Mais une moitié des 22.000 assemblages sont en mauvais état ou conservés dans des positions potentiellement dangereuses, en particulier les six enfouis dans la piscine accidentée en 1982 et toujours aujourd'hui interdite d'accès.
« Le plus difficile reste à faire. Les assemblages les plus endommagés sous la période soviétique pourraient réserver des surprises lors de leur extraction », s'inquiète Nils Bohmer, l'un des experts venus de l'équipe norvégienne de Bellona. A priori, ils excluent tout risque d'explosion nucléaire. Les procédures d'évacuation actuelles se font en milieu fermé et ventilé. Les suivantes seront plus délicates à isoler et des fuites pourraient entraîner de la pollution radioactive dans l'air.
A ces problèmes techniques s'ajoutent pour Bellona des difficultés juridiques. L'association à Mourmansk de l'ONG norvégienne, qui pendant de longues années a assuré le travail d'information et d'alerte que personne d'autre ne faisait en Russie, vient d'être classée « agent étranger » par les autorités au service du Kremlin. Comme d'autres associations à travers le pays, elle est accusée d'être financée de l'étranger avec une présupposée « activité politique ». Mais, confie le vétéran Alexandre Nikitine, le sauvetage de la baie d'Andreyeva « a déjà su passer tant de nombreux obstacles politiques »...

Tous droits réservés - Les Echos 2017.

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    United Press International / Sept. 6, 2017
    Researchers develop new material for hydrogen storage
    • By Brooks Hays
    Ученые Сибирского федерального университета, Института физики СО РАН и Института химии и химической технологии СО РАН получили новый материал для хранения и транспортировки водорода на основе гидрида магния.

Sept. 6 (UPI) - A team of scientists in Russia has developed a new material with promising hydrogen-storage abilities.
Hydrogen has been promised as the remedy for the world's addiction to fossil fuels. But to make hydrogen more economically viable, researchers must find cheaper, more efficient ways to make and store the gas.
Scientists at the Siberian Federal University have been working on the problem of hydrogen storage and distribution. New technologies and materials are needed to ensure hydrogen-powered vehicles have a place to fill up their tank.
Transporting hydrogen is dangerous, as air and hydrogen can react and combust. Researchers need materials that easily and efficiently absorb and store hydrogen so that it can be transported risk-free.
Magnesium has been identified as an ideal hydrogen-storing material. Theoretical models suggest magnesium can take up hydrogen at a rate of 7.6 percent of its mass. But until now, researchers have only been able to achieve absorption rates of between 5 and 6 percent.
Researchers were able to inch closer to magnesium's theoretical potential by adding nickel and palladium to magnesium hydride. The result was a material capable of absorbing roughly 7 percent of its weight in hydrogen.
Scientists described their success this week in the SibFU journal Mathematics and Physics.
"The most safe and effective solution now is hydride-forming metals that absorb hydrogen," researcher Grigoriy Churilov said in a news release. "Magnesium is the most promising of these metals: many scientists in the world are exploring the possibility of creating hydrogen accumulators based on magnesium hydride."

Copyright © 2017 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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    Wired Magazine / September 8 2017
    For Superpowers, Artificial Intelligence Fuels New Global Arms Race
    • Tom Simonite
    В будущем искусственный интеллект станет ключевой технологией, поддерживающей национальную мощь. Поэтому три крупные державы - США, Россия и Китай - разрабатывают стратегии, которые должны помочь каждой из стран стать лидером инноваций в сфере ИИ. При этом многие технологий ИИ могут быть использованы как для военных, так и для гражданских нужд.

For many Russian students, the academic year started last Friday with tips on planetary domination from President Vladimir Putin.
"Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind," he said, via live video beamed to 16,000 selected schools. "Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."
Putin's advice is the latest sign of an intensifying race among Russia, China, and the US to accumulate military power based on artificial intelligence. All three countries have proclaimed intelligent machines as vital to the future of their national security. Technologies such as software that can sift intelligence material or autonomous drones and ground vehicles are seen as ways to magnify the power of human soldiers.
"The US, Russia, and China are all in agreement that artificial intelligence will be the key technology underpinning national power in the future," says Gregory C. Allen, a fellow at nonpartisan think tank the Center for a New American Security. He coauthored a recent report commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that concluded artificial intelligence could shake up armed conflict as significantly as nuclear weapons did.
In July, China's State Council released a detailed strategy designed to make the country "the front-runner and global innovation center in AI" by 2030. It includes pledges to invest in R&D that will "through AI elevate national defense strength and assure and protect national security."
The US, widely recognized as home to the most advanced and vibrant AI development, doesn't have a prescriptive roadmap like China's. But for several years the Pentagon has been developing a strategy known as the "Third Offset," intended to give the US, through weapons powered by smart software, the same sort of advantage over potential adversaries that it once held in nuclear bombs and precision-guided weapons. In April, the Department of Defense established the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team to improve use of AI technologies such as machine vision across the Pentagon.
Russia lags behind China and the US in sophistication and use of automation and AI, but is expanding its own investments through a military modernization program begun in 2008. The government's Military Industrial Committee has set a target of making 30 percent of military equipment robotic by 2025. "Russia is behind the curve - they are playing catchup," says Samuel Bendett, a research analyst who studies the country's military at the Center for Naval Analyses.
The AI race among the world's three largest military powers differs from earlier competitions like those to deploy nuclear weapons or stealth technology because much artificial intelligence technology can be used for both commercial and military applications.
Algorithms good at searching holiday photos can be repurposed to scour spy satellite imagery, for example, while the control software needed for an autonomous minivan is much like that required for a driverless tank. Many recent advances in developing and deploying artificial intelligence emerged from research from companies such as Google.
China's AI strategy attempts to directly link commercial and defense developments in AI. For example, a national lab dedicated to making China more competitive in machine learning that opened in February is operated by Baidu, the country's leading search engine. Another partner in the project is Beihang University, a leading center in military drones blocked from exporting certain items by the US Department of Commerce due to national security concerns.
The US government is less able to simply order cooperation from the tech sector. Defense Secretary James Mattis admitted on a recent West Coast trip that took in the offices of Amazon and Google that his department needs to do a better job of tapping into commercial AI advances. The Pentagon plans to boost spending on its DIUx project, created by the Obama administration to help smaller tech companies partner with the military.
Russia's smaller tech industry, compared with the US and China, puts it at a disadvantage in the AI arms race. But it retains a strong academic tradition in science and technology. And advanced technology isn't everything - it also matters what you do with what you've got.
Bendett of the Center for Naval Analyses says Russia has demonstrated in recent conflicts in Syria and Ukraine that it can do much even without the best technology. Russian drones are much cheaper, and have smaller ranges, than those of the US, but have been extremely effective, he says.
Allen suggests that Russia may be willing to use machine learning and AI more aggressively than its rivals in intelligence and propaganda campaigns. Automation could enhance the power of hacking and social-media campaigns like those deployed in the 2016 US election, he says.
Speaking last Friday, Putin suggested that Russian gains in AI could make the world safer - apparently a nod to the arguably stabilizing effect of mutual nuclear deterrence. "It would be strongly undesirable if someone wins a monopolist position," he said. The AI arms race may bring new technologies to the world's largest militaries, but many dynamics of international power could be the same.

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    Phys.Org / September 12, 2017
    Scientists use mismatch in telescopic data to get a handle on quasars and their 'tails'
    Сравнив данные международной сети радиотелескопов VLBI (Национальная радиоастрономическая обсерватория США) с данными оптического орбитального телескопа Gaia (Европейское космическое агентство), российские астрономы из МФТИ и ФИАН обнаружили ряд расхождений, с помощью которых выяснили кое-что новое о квазарах и их хвостах. Хвосты или джеты - струи плазмы, которые квазар испускает в пространство; механизм их формирования пока не выяснен. Оказалось, что хвосты гораздо длиннее и ярче, чем «видели» радиотелескопы, а примерно у 6% квазаров именно в хвосте находится самая яркая точка в видимом свете.

Scientists have determined the properties of ionized jets of matter ejected by supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. They analyzed unexpected discrepancies between the data of high-precision observations conducted by an international network of radio telescopes and that of Gaia - a space observatory of the European Space Agency equipped with optical telescopes.
Yuri Kovalev, who heads MIPT's Laboratory of Relativistic Astrophysics and a laboratory at the Lebedev Physical Institute (LPI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says, "By comparing the data from radio interferometers and optical telescopes, we can obtain information about hot jets and the accretion disks surrounding black holes at the center of galaxies in the visible part of the spectrum. We have now gained a better understanding of what their structure is and what processes occur inside them."
Yuri Kovalev and Leonid Petrov from MIPT and LPI collaborated on a research paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society analyzing the coordinates of active nuclei of remote galaxies obtained independently by very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) and Gaia.
In 2013, Gaia was launched with an aim of cataloging the precise coordinates and velocities of 1 billion stars in our galaxy. Hipparcos, its predecessor, gathered data on the positions of some 1 million stars with a maximum precision of 1 millisecond of arc. In the near future, the accuracy of Gaia will reach 24 microseconds of arc. In addition to stars in our own galaxy, this telescope can observe objects outside the Milky Way.
By now, Gaia has cataloged more than 1 billion objects. More than 10,000 of these are extremely bright active galactic nuclei called quasars. These have accretion disks of matter falling onto a supermassive black hole that, in turn, ejects extended beams of matter called jets. As matter falls onto the black hole, it is heated to temperatures so extreme that it emits radiation across almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
To study such objects, researchers use VLBI. It involves the use of multiple radio telescopes positioned far from each other but working as an integrated system. This technique bests the angular resolution achieved by optical telescopes several hundredfold. This is what made radio signals so useful for resolving the structure of jets expelled by quasars.
"But there are things you can't see in the radio spectrum," says Leonid Petrov. "Thus, for instance, an accretion disk around a supermassive black hole emits mostly visible and ultraviolet light. So we decided to combine the data from two sources."
In contrast to the Hubble Space Telescope or similar instruments, Gaia does not, by itself, produce an image. Instead, it registers the coordinates of the center of the luminosity of a celestial object. Together with MIPT student Alexander Plavin, Kovalev and Petrov compared the data on the coordinates of quasars obtained by Gaia and VLBI. They found that for roughly 6 percent of objects, the positions did not agree very well. Generally, the position of an object provided by Gaia was shifted in the direction of jets.
"We can now use the data on variable radiation output and position of quasars provided by radio interferometry and Gaia to recreate and study the structure of hundreds of very remote quasars at the scale of parsecs, thousandths of a second of arc. This precision is superior to what is possible with ordinary optical telescopes and even with Hubble," says Kovalev. He adds that data analysis revealed the existence of bright jets emitting in visible light in many quasars at angular scales so fine that even the Hubble Space Telescope cannot detect them. In order to see such a structure directly, a space telescope with a mirror the size of a stadium would be needed. The scientists suggested a method for revealing this structure indirectly by means of combining the data from existing telescopes.
The investigation of variations in source positions and brightness will help researchers to determine what causes bright flares in active galactic nuclei. This will improve understanding of the physics of accretion disks and supermassive black holes.
There is even a practical aspect to this discovery: VLBI-based quasar observations are used in navigation to establish a celestial frame of reference. This is necessary for tracking the movement of continents and operating positioning systems, including GPS and GLONASS. The comparison of the data provided by VLBI and the Gaia space telescope indicates the presence of a certain source position "jitter" in the optical range. As a consequence, caution is required when using the coordinates of active galactic nuclei obtained by optical observations for navigation.

© Phys.org 2003-2017, Science X network.
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    TechJuice / September 19, 2017
    Russia's top 5 universities are now offering courses in Cryptocurrency
    • By Talha Hameed
    Пять российских вузов - МГУ, ВШЭ, МИСиС, МФТИ и СПбГЭУ - ввели в новом учебном году для будущих финансистов изучение основ блокчейна, криптовалют и других инновационных финансовых технологий.

Leading universities in Russia have started to offer courses in cryptocurrency along with their existing finance curricula. According to their representatives, this decision has been made due to increasing public interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
Sergy Studnikov, a managing board member of Moscow State University's Financial Analytics program, elaborated the university's plan for cryptocurrency course, "We will have master class immediately for several programs - for this we invite industry representatives". Higher School of Economics, another leading university of Russia, is offering cryptocurrency as a topic in Financial Technologies course. Saint Petersburg State University will teach cryptocurrency along with banking, finance and financial markets program.
Cryptocurrency is seeing an unparalleled support from the Russian state. Ethereum, a digital currency with second largest market cap, was built by a Russian programmer and is endorsed by the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Burger King also launched its own cryptocurrency in Russia.
There has been an immense increase in the usage and popularity of cryptocurrency in recent years. Now, industries in Russia have started to demand cryptocurrency courses from their partner universities. Sberbank, an industrial partner of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has opened a new scientific laboratory to conduct research on cryptocurrency.
Blockchain, the backbone technology behind Bitcoin, is finding its application in other fields as well. Ukraine, the neighboring country of Russia, is considering to implement it at a state level. The National University of Science and Technology, Russia's leading university for the study of metallurgy and steel-making, signed an agreement with a government-owned bank to create a center for materials and breakthrough technology with a special focus on Blockchain.
It is not the first time that universities are offering courses in cryptocurrency or blockchain technology. New York University (NYU) started offering "The Law and Business of Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies" in 2014. Other acclaimed universities like Stanford and Princeton also offer online courses on cryptocurrency.

Copyright © 2017 TechJuice, All Rights Reserved.
* * *
    Xinhua / 2017-09-19
    Interview: China-Russia university "lighthouse" for educational cooperation: MSU rector
    Интервью с ректором МГУ Виктором Садовничим о Совместном российско-китайском университете, созданном на базе МГУ и Пекинского политехнического университета. Церемония открытия состоялась в Шэньчжэне 13 сентября.

MOSCOW, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) - Shenzhen MSU-BIT University, the first joint Sino-Russian university, will light up the path for further educational cooperation between the two countries, said Victor Sadovnichy, rector of Russia's top Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU).
"MSU is ready to share its know-how and start not only language training, but also natural science research programs at the most advanced level from the very first months," Sadovnichy said in a recent interview with Xinhua about the university jointly founded by the Shenzhen municipal government, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) and MSU.
Last week, Shenzhen MSU-BIT University, located in south China's metropolis of Shenzhen, held a ceremony to open its inaugural semester with the first class of 113 undergraduate students. The studies at the university actually began in August, when the first students from China started intensive Russian language courses, Sadovnichy told Xinhua.
He believed that the most important characteristic of the university was teaching in three languages: English, which is the recognized language of modern science, Russian and Chinese, which will undoubtedly play a key role in building a new model of cooperation between countries along the new Silk Road.
"Thanks to the support of the Shenzhen government, educational laboratories equipped with the most advanced equipment which will allow students to start their scientific work directly have been opened in the first months," Sadovnichy said.
Joint scientific work at the university is one of the best formats for rapprochement, cooperation and exchanges of ideas, he said. The university will accept undergraduate and graduate students from China and abroad, with international students making up 30 percent of them. It plans to accommodate up to 5,000 students in the coming years, and begin to enroll doctorate students in 2018.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin both sent congratulatory messages to celebrate the inaugural semester of Shenzhen MSU-BIT University. Xi said in his message that education is a major impetus for the development of a country and a key bond to promote exchanges between different peoples. Cooperation has played a positive role in promoting mutual understanding between the two peoples as well as the development of the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, Xi said.
Putin said in his message that educational cooperation is a key component of the Russia-China strategic partnership.
Sadovnichy said the university is a perfect starting point for the development of new innovative projects and entire trends in economic and social cooperation between the two countries.
"The capacity of the existing educational systems of our countries certainly allows and requires the establishment of more joint universities in the future," he added.

Copyright © 2000-2017 XINHUANET.com All rights reserved.
* * *
    Markets Insider / Sep. 20, 2017
    Identifying extreme impact in research, Clarivate Analytics uses citations to forecast Nobel Prize winners
    Of 22 named researchers, first Russian Citation Laureates selected.
    С 2002 года компания Clarivate Analytics, специализирующаяся на вопросах науки и интеллектуальной собственности, ежегодно публикует список самых цитируемых исследователей - вероятных лауреатов Нобелевской премии в области естественных наук и экономики, верно назвав победителей в общей сложности 43 раза. Например, в списке прошлого года фигурировали Кип Торн и Райнер Вайс, лауреаты премии по физике-2017. В этом году в список Clarivate Analytics Citation Laureates впервые вошли российские ученые - астрофизик Рашид Сюняев и химик Георгий Шульпин.

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 20, 2017 - Clarivate Analytics, the global leader in providing trusted insights and analytics to accelerate the pace of innovation, today announced its 2017 Citation Laureates.
Each year since 2002, analysts at Clarivate Analytics have mined millions of citations in the Web of Science to identify top-tier researchers in physiology or medicine, physics and chemistry - fields recognized by the Nobel Prizes in science. It also names Citation Laureates in economics since the Swedish National Bank established an award in this domain, in memory of Alfred Nobel, in 1968.
Citation Laureates are scientists and economists whose publications have been cited so often by their colleagues - and thus who have been so influential - that they are forecast as potential recipients of the Nobel Prize in this year or in the future.
In 15 years, 43 Citation Laureates have gone on to receive Nobel honors.
A good bet for a Nobel Prize this year may be the award in Physics for the detection of gravitational waves resulting from the coalescence of black holes, something predicted by Einstein more than a century ago. The likely recipients would be Kip S. Thorne of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of MIT, who were named Clarivate Analytics Citation Laureates last year.
There are many noteworthy nominees. For the first time, Russian scientists have been named Citation Laureates. This year's cohort also includes researchers from Denmark, Germany, Greece, India, Japan, The Netherlands, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as from the UK and USA. They are listed below.

The 2017 Clarivate Analytics Citation Laureates:
PHYSIOLOGY or MEDICINE
Lewis C. Cantley

Meyer Director and Professor of Cancer Biology, Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA. For discovering the signaling pathway phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and elucidation of its role in tumor growth.
Karl J. Friston
Professor of Imaging Neuroscience and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London, UK. For fundamental contributions to the analysis of brain imaging data, specifically through statistical parametric mapping and voxel-based morphometry.
Yuan Chang
American Cancer Society Research Professor, Distinguished Professor of Pathology, and UPMC Endowed Chair in Cancer Virology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
and
Patrick S. Moore
Director of the Cancer Virology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society Research Professor, Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Innovative Cancer Research, University of PittsburghSchool of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. For their discovery of the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus, or human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV/HHV8).
PHYSICS
Phaedon Avouris

IBM Fellow and Group Leader for Nanometer Scale Science and Technology, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA.
and
Cornelis (Cees) Dekker
Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands, Delft, The Netherlands.
and
Paul McEuen
John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science, Department of Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. For seminal contributions to carbon-based electronics.
Mitchell J. Feigenbaum
Toyota Professor, Laboratory of Mathematical Physics, Rockefeller University, New York, NY USA. For pioneering discoveries in nonlinear and chaotic physical systems and for identification of the Feigenbaum Constant.
Rashid A. Sunyaev
Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany (since 1995), Head of the High-Energy Astrophysics Department of the Institute for Space Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (in 1982 - 2002; Chief Scientist since 1992); Visiting Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (since 2010), Moscow, Russia. For his profound contributions to our understanding of the universe, including its origins, galactic formation processes, disk accretion of black holes, and many other cosmological phenomena.
CHEMISTRY
John E. Bercaw

Centennial Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA.
and
Robert G. Bergman
Gerald E.K. Branch Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA USA.
and
Georgiy B. Shul'pin
Senior Scientific Researcher, N. N. Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia. For critical contributions to C-H functionalization.
Jens Nørskov
Leland T. Edwards Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Photon Science and Senior Fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy, Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. For fundamental advances, theoretical and practical, in heterogeneous catalysis on solid surfaces.
Tsutomu Miyasaka
Professor of Photoelectrochemistry and Energy Science, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering and Graduate School of Engineering, Toin University of Yokohama; group leader of national research projects funded by Japan Science Technology Agency (JST) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Yokohama, Japan.
and
Nam-Gyu Park
Professor, School of Chemical Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, South Korea.
and
Henry J. Snaith
Professor in Physics, Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. For their discovery and application of perovskite materials to achieve efficient energy conversion.
ECONOMICS
Colin F. Camerer
Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Finance and Economics, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience Leadership Chair, Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA.
and
George F. Loewenstein
Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. For pioneering research in behavioral economics and in neuroeconomics.
Robert E. Hall
Robert and Carole McNeil Joint Hoover Senior Fellow and Professor of Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. For his analysis of worker productivity and studies of recessions and unemployment.
Michael C. Jensen
Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Business School, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
and
Stewart C. Myers
Robert C. Merton (1970) Professor of Financial Economics, Emeritus, Sloan School of Management, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA.
and
Raghuram G. Rajan
Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. For their contributions illuminating the dimensions of decisions in corporate finance.

"Analysis that begins with and mainly depends on highly-cited papers, allows Clarivate Analytics to objectively identify excellence in research," said Jessica Turner, global head of the Scientific and Academic Research business at Clarivate Analytics. "It is our honor to recognize trailblazing researchers and we hope this designation is an honor for them. Our analysis faithfully reflects what their colleagues' citations have already indicated about the influence and importance of the Citation Laureates' research contributions. However, our analysis only reflects what their colleagues have already indicated about the influence and importance of the Citation Laureates' research contributions.
"This is what we do," she added, "we comprehensively record and carefully analyze scientific and academic research to provide a clear and accurate window on the world of research."
For detailed information on the methodology of this study, the Citation Laureates and their fields of research and institutional affiliations visit: https://clarivate.com/2017-citation-laureates/.

Copyright © 2017 Business Insider Inc. and finanzen.net GmbH (Imprint). All rights reserved.
* * *
    Science / Sep. 21, 2017
    Russia wants to protect itself from climate change - without reducing carbon emissions
    • By Angelina Davydova
    Каким образом Россия планирует решать проблемы изменения климата и признает ли она вообще существование этих проблем?

When a squall tore through Moscow at the end of May, the toll was unusually high: The fierce gales killed 18 people and injured scores more, officials say, and inflicted about $3.5 billion in damages in Russia's capital region.
Now, there's another casualty. Earlier this month, Russia's government fired the head of its weather forecasting agency, the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, or Roshydromet. Alexander Frolov, 65, had surpassed the mandatory retirement age for civil servants, but the real reason he was forced out, observers say, was Roshydromet's failure to anticipate the late-May storm's intensity and warn Muscovites accordingly. His ousting also sent a message to the environment ministry, Roshydromet's overseer. The state prosecutor's office, according to the newspaper Kommersant, demanded that the ministry take steps to increase the accuracy of forecasts in light of a changing climate.
The new charge to the environment ministry reflects a sea change in Russia's views about climate change and how the nation must respond. Politicians have acknowledged that extreme weather events have doubled over the past 25 years, to 590 in 2016, and that average temperatures are rising, particularly in the Arctic. Yet until recently, tackling climate change was a low priority for the federal government. One reason is complacence, because Russia's greenhouse gas emissions have already plummeted since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Another is political: Russia's economy depends heavily on pumping oil and gas out of the ground. Many influential voices here routinely debunked climate change, and some Russian newspapers in recent years chalked up climate variability to a mythical U.S. weapon aimed at Russia, or as a foreign plot aimed at Russia's energy exports.
That thinking has gone out the window. "We have already witnessed [climate change] effects this summer and we need to prepare for more damage to come," says Anton Kulbachevsky, the head of Moscow city's environmental committee. He says that climate-related economic damage in the Moscow region, home to 20 million people, is expected to reach $4.3 billion a year by 2025, a figure comparable to the national toll, on average, in recent years.
Unease spread nationwide this summer, after forest fires razed 4.6 million hectares of Siberian taiga and flooding ravaged the Far East. The mosquito-borne West Nile virus has made gains in southern Russia, and tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are spreading in the north. Officials as well as scientists blame those disturbing patterns on climate change. "Climate change is a real threat for Russia, and the country and its regions urgently need to start adapting to it, building resilience," Larisa Korepanova, a senior official at the natural resources ministry, said at a climate forum organized by the city of Moscow and held there in August.
That's exactly what a draft adaptation plan for the Moscow region aims to do. Unveiled at the forum, the strategy takes stock of which sectors are most vulnerable to climate change, recommends adaptation measures, and estimates compliance costs. The draft plan lauds the high resilience it sees in the city's power grids, housing complexes, and transportation networks. But it raises the specter of more frequent and pronounced heat waves that would sicken or kill rising numbers of Muscovites and decimate greenery, as well as worsening air quality that would erode health.
In 2010, Moscow experienced a preview of what it may have to adapt to on a regular basis. Over 44 days that summer, sweltering temperatures, as well as particulates from forest fires and smog, resulted in nearly 11,000 deaths in the Moscow region, mainly among people over 65 years old, says Boris Revich, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences's environmental health laboratory in Moscow. To better cope with heat waves, the adaptation plan calls for modernizing hospitals, establishing free water supplies, and ensuring that senior centers and kindergartens have air conditioning.
Although Russia is bracing for climate change, it has shown little desire to rein in carbon emissions. It intends to ratify the Paris climate accord in 2019 or 2020, the president's climate adviser recently confirmed. But the country can afford to do little and still meet its emissions pledges for 2020 to 2030, which range from 25% to 30% below 1990 levels. Russia is already running 30% below levels in 1990, the year before the Soviet collapse wiped out much heavy industry.
Today's carbon-intensive industries - most prominently the coal, steel, and metal sectors - are reluctant to do more, arguing for voluntarily ratcheting up energy efficiency without setting specific emissions targets. The federal government is on board with that approach. Speaking at a United Nations forum in November 2016, Yaroslav Mandron, a top climate official in Russia's economic development ministry in Moscow, suggested that the federal government's climate policy should concentrate on efficiency until about 2030, after which it could revisit the idea of enacting stricter emissions standards.
Russia's emissions targets are certainly unambitious, says Alexey Kokorin, director of the climate and energy program at the World Wildlife Fund Russia, an environmental group in Moscow. But he sees unmistakable signs of progress: "It is good that Russian officials and the political elite recognize the threats coming from climate change and acknowledge the necessity of adaptation."

© 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights Reserved.
* * *
    Times Higher Education (THE) / September 26, 2017
    Germany and Russia strengthen research ties
    Multinational research teams can now bid for money in any scientific area, although funders do not expect security-sensitive projects.
    • By David Matthews
    Германия и Россия укрепляют научные связи, несмотря на напряженные политические отношения - с 2019 года исследователи из двух стран смогут претендовать на совместные гранты Немецкого научно-исследовательского общества (DFG) и РНФ в любых областях науки, за исключением разве что вопросов безопасности.

Germany and Russia are strengthening scientific ties despite tense political relations, agreeing that from 2019 researchers from the two countries will be able to bid for money for joint projects in any academic area.
Maintaining good academic links is seen as a good way to keep channels open, even if relations otherwise have become more frosty.
Jörn Achterberg, who coordinates relations for the German Research Foundation (DFG) with Eastern Europe and Russia, said that even after the 2014 diplomatic crisis over Ukraine, "science has always been a bridge between our countries".
Having previously trialled joint bids between Russian and German research groups in limited areas, such as mathematics, physics, life sciences, social sciences and humanities, from 2019 the DFG and the Russian Science Foundation will fund grants "in all areas of science", they announced earlier this month.
This could include sensitive areas of research such as cybersecurity, for example, despite tensions over alleged Russian cyberwarfare. German intelligence agencies have accusing Russia of hacking into state computer networks, including the country's parliament.
However, Karin Zach, head of the mathematics and physics division at the DFG, emphasised that the foundation did "not expect" joint applications in such areas. "Most of the applications we have are for basic research," rather than applied, she said. DFG grant committees also have guidance on how to handle security-relevant research, she added.
When Russia established its new Russian Science Foundation in 2013, the DFG was one of the first foreign organisation to put out joint calls with it, explained Dr Achterberg, and in 2003 opened an office in Moscow to bolster links. The DFG lists Russia as a "particularly significant" academic partner.
The number of projects with a Russian partner funded by the DFG has grown from about 20-30 a year a decade ago to more than 50 annually in recent years. Some fund culture-bridging projects like the creation of a German-Russian theological dictionary. However, none so far have touched directly on security-related issues like cybersecurity.
Links with other countries remain more significant, however: in 2016 the DFG funded 213 projects with UK partners, 185 with France and 385 with the United States.
Scientific cooperation with Russia had a 300-year history stretching back to Peter the Great, Dr Achterberg said. "The door is always open," he continued. Even if scientists were "not happy with the politics" there was no need to "destroy" academic relations. In 2014, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, Nasa and Nato severed links, including scientific ties.
Germany is not the only country to stress continued scientific links with Russia even as other ties are strained. 2017 is the "UK-Russia Year of Science and Education", a calendar of events designed to promote dialogue.
But despite efforts to boost the number of international scholars working at Russian universities, concerns about scientific isolation remain. Simon Marginson, professor of international higher education at University College London, who has raised the alarm about a declining science base in Russia, said that "Russian science needs much help in strengthening basic capacity, setting and implementing performance targets that mean something, and opening up internationally".
The German initiatives "are relatively generous and another sign of the importance German policy places on both collaboration and mutual benefit", he added.

* * *
    The Siver Times / September 26, 2017
    The scientists were able to look into the past of a supernova Tycho Brahe
    Международная команда астрономов из Европы, США, Австралии и России выяснила, каким образом возникла сверхновая звезда SN 1572 (сверхновая Тихо), вспышку которой наблюдал в 1572 году датский астроном Тихо Браге. Ученые пришли к выводу, что термоядерный взрыв белого карлика был вызван не превышением предела его массы за счет притяжения вещества соседней звезды, как считалось до сих пор, а слиянием с другим белым карликом.

In the study, scientists were able to refute the accepted science point of view about flash on Tycho Brahe had a relationship with the explosion of the white dwarf.
In the international edition of Nature Astronomy published an article with the latest research by European, American, Australian and Russian scientists, reports Rus.Media. She explains the nature of the supernova Tycho Brahe (SN 1572). In the study, scientists were able to refute the accepted science point of view about flash on Tycho Brahe had a relationship with the explosion of the white dwarf had a mass equivalent to 1.4 solar masses by accretion in a close binary system substances the stars partner.
Type Ia supernovas are pretty standard candles modern observable space. At the moment there are two theories. The first says that the white dwarf mass is growing for billions of years. This contributes to the accretion of matter from stars partner in a very small space binary system. The mass will grow until it reaches its Chandrasekhar limit (1.4 solar masses), and then blow up.
There is also a second theory that says that the explosion occurs during a merger of two white dwarfs in a binary system of a compact type.
Recent studies suggest a completely different approach to the issue. Scientists learned that around the supernova Tycho Brahe formed a large ionized nebula, which has existed for 1 million years after the explosion, the hot white dwarf. This region of ionized gas is called a field Stromgren.
Astronomer Tycho Brahe even 445 years ago was discovered SuperBright star (SN 1572). Then the scientist noticed that the light shines brighter than Venus, but over time, its brightness began to diminish. Now researchers became known that Brahe was a witness to a thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf supernova type Ia.

Copyright © 2017 The Siver Times.
* * *
    Sciences et Avenir / le 28.09.2017
    Russes et américains s'accordent pour développer des technologies spatiales commune
    На 68-м международном конгрессе Федерации астронавтики в Аделаиде (Австралия) НАСА и Роскосмос подписали совместное заявление о сотрудничестве в исследовании Луны и открытого космоса.

La coopération spatiale entre la Nasa et Roscomos se voit renforcée par la signature d'une déclaration commune entre les États-Unis et la Russie. En ligne de mire, le développement d'une station orbitale lunaire, dont la possibilité se précise.
Les Américains et les Russes laisseraient-ils enfin la Guerre Froide de côté pour travailler ensemble les yeux tournés vers l'espace... et la Lune en particulier ? Le signe est timide : les deux pays viennent de signer une déclaration commune à Adelaïde, en Australie, où se tient le 68e Congrès international d'astronautique. Cet accord permettra aux deux agences spatiales Nasa et Roscosmos de travailler sur des projets conjoints, et en particulier concernant l'exploration spatiale profonde vers la Lune, à partir de la Station spatiale internationale qui deviendrait une base stratégique de lancement. Il serait toutefois abusif, à ce stade, d'annoncer la construction conjointe d'une future base sur la Lune.
Objectif Lune
L'Agence spatiale américaine envisage d'explorer la Lune et son espace environnant depuis une base avancée, vaste projet intitulé Deep Space Gateway. Dans ce cadre, la Nasa se servira de la Station spatiale internationale (ISS) comme base pour une exploration plus poussée de l'espace, avant la création de cette plateforme internationale habitée devant orbiter autour de la Lune, qui permettra d'envoyer des astronautes en orbite lunaire à l'aide de nouvelles fusées développées par l'agence spatiale américaine. Cette déclaration intervient dans un contexte d'exploration spatiale qui s'essouffle, sur fond de financements limités. D'autant plus que la durée de vie de l'ISS, déjà prolongée de 4 ans, ne court que jusqu'à 2024. Sa future remplaçante pourrait ainsi faire figure d'avant-port vers la Lune.
NORMES COMMUNES. De son côté, la Russie ambitionne elle aussi d'ouvrir une base scientifique sur la Lune et a annoncé qu'elle souhaitait effectuer ses premiers vols lunaires d'ici 2031. L'accord entre les deux agences porte ainsi surtout sur "le développement de nouvelles normes techniques internationales qui pourront être utilisées dans le cadre de la future station orbitale et sur le sol lunaire". Tout en évoquant un projet américain au stade de la "formulation de concept", l'administrateur de la Nasa, Robert Lightfoot, s'est déclaré "ravi de voir un intérêt international croissant envers le déplacement vers l'orbite lunaire comme prochaine étape dans le développement de l'exploration spatiale", dans un communiqué de l'Agence spatiale.
L'espace, champ de coopération internationale
L'espace est un des rares domaines de coopération bilatérale non affecté par les vives tensions entre les Etats-Unis et la Russie. Les deux pays coopèrent notamment dans le cadre de l'ISS, dont la Russie fournit le principal module et dispose du seul vaisseau capable d'y envoyer des spationautes depuis l'arrêt des navettes spatiales américaines. Les fusées russes Angara et Proton-M pourraient notamment être utilisées en parallèle du lanceur lourd américain SLS, dont le premier vol est prévu en 2018, pour "créer l'infrastructure de la station lunaire", selon un communiqué de Roskosmos, qui précise que la création de cette station orbitale ne débutera pas avant le milieu des années 2020.
FUSÉES PORTEUSES. "Mieux vaut voler vers la Lune ensemble que de supputer qui va frapper le premier", résume l'expert russe Igor Lissov. Selon lui, Moscou pourrait notamment fournir au projet Deep Space Gateway les fusées porteuses, les composants nécessaires à l'arrimage et les systèmes de subsistance. "Au moins cinq pays travaillent à développer leurs propres vaisseaux spatiaux habités. Afin d'éviter des problèmes en termes de coopération technique, les normes doivent être unifiées", ajoute Igor Komarov, directeur de l'agence spatiale russe, précisant qu'une partie de ces normes "seront établies sur la base des éléments russes".
L'enjeu financier et technique des vols habités
La Lune intéresse également l'Agence spatiale européenne (ESA). Son directeur général, l'Allemand Jan Woerner, plaide depuis sa nomination en 2015 en faveur de la création d'un "village lunaire" qui pourrait succéder à l'ISS. "Il ne s'agit pas d'un projet mais d'un concept ouvert, répète-t-il. Pourquoi ne pas joindre nos forces au niveau international pour retourner sur la Lune, qui est "une très bonne destination ?", a-t-il eu l'occasion d'expliquer. En tout cas une bonne destination pour continuer de développer les technologies permettant les vols habités : "Si on ne commence pas bientôt un programme de vols habités vers l'espace lointain, alors les vols habités en orbite terrestre seront finis dans dix ans simplement parce que les dirigeants ne comprendront plus pourquoi nous les finançons, estime Igor Lissov. Il faut aller de l'avant, sinon, nous ferons un bond en arrière".

© Sciences et Avenir.
* * *
    Science / Sep. 29, 2017
    After upheaval, Russian Academy of Sciences gets new leader
    • By Vladimir Pokrovsky
    После нескольких месяцев неопределенности в Российской академии наук наконец появился новый руководитель. Президентом Академии на следующие 5 лет избран физик Александр Сергеев, директор Института прикладной физики РАН.

MOSCOW - After months of uncertainty, the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) here finally has a new leader. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved physicist Alexander Sergeyev as the academy's president for the next 5 years. Sergeyev has vowed to secure more money for Russian science and create a fund, through a new tax on fossil fuel company profits, for upgrading the country's antiquated research infrastructure.
Sergeyev, director of the RAS Institute of Applied Physics in Nizhny Novgorod, may be best known abroad as head of the Russian team involved in the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. In Russia, he is highly respected by colleagues. "In any case, I can say that the academy is ready to team up around him," Vladimir Fortov, former RAS president, told TASS news agency. "The Academy is on his side, and that's the most important result today."
Sergeyev campaigned for the RAS presidency on a 100-page manifesto that seeks to walk back wildly unpopular reforms of Russia's top science body, which includes more than 700 research organizations. Under this reform, RAS merged with two other academies - the medical and agricultural sciences - and lost control over buildings and other property which was handed over to the new government body, the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations. "The academy must be given the function of scientific and organizational governance over the academic institutions, including the issues of the distribution of funds, sharing the budget for the basic research and, at the same time, more responsibility for the result," Sergeyev said on the eve of the RAS presidential elections on Monday.
The academy presidency has been vacant since this past March, when all three scientists vying for the position withdrew their candidacies. The official explanation was that the RAS charter was not clear about the rules for electing a new academy president. Over the summer, Russia's lower house of parliament passed a law revising the election procedures, and most importantly giving Russia's president the ultimate say in approving an academy president. In anointing Sergeyev yesterday, Putin directed him to be a team player if he wants to fulfill his campaign pledges. "I hope that together we will be able to think about how to organize this work," Putin said.

© 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights Reserved.
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