Russia Wants To Continue Operation Of Black Hole Search Telescope Without Germany's Permission

Russia Wants To Continue Operation Of Black Hole Search Telescope Without Germany's Permission
Russia Wants To Continue Operation Of Black Hole Search Telescope Without Germany's Permission

- Russia wants to restart its black hole-seeking telescope program launched in 2019 in collaboration with Germany. Germany ordered the telescope to be discontinued in early March in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022.

The telescope, called eROSITA and mounted on Russia's Spektr-RG spacecraft, scans the sky for sources of X-ray radiation (black holes and neutron stars). The device works in tandem with Russia's ART-X instrument which searches for supermassive black holes. The head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said he plans to reactivate eROSITA without permission from Germany.

Quoted from, Rogozin said “I gave instructions to start work on restoring the operation of the German telescope on the Spektr-RG system so that it cooperates with the Russian telescope. contacted the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, which operates eROSITA, but the institute declined to comment on the situation. However, Russian scientists involved in the collaboration reportedly criticized the idea, noting that restarting eROSITA without German participation could damage the telescope.

"Management of our eROSITA is not easy and in some ways even risky, because we do not manufacture these devices and we do not operate them," Alexander Sergeev, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Russian news agency Interfax.

But Rogozin didn't seem swayed by that reasoning. In a statement via Telegram in response to Sergeev's remarks, he said Roscosmos' specialists would be able to complete the task assigned to them without breaking the control loop of the German telescope. “The telescope was turned off not by Germany, but by Russian specialists at the request of Germany,” Rogozin wrote in an unverified post dated June 6, 2022.

Ars Technica reported on Monday (June 6) that, according to an unnamed German official, the desire to restart scientific instruments without German participation could cause damage to the telescope. Legally, the situation seems rather complicated. Christopher Johnson, space legal adviser at the Secure World Foundation, said that Russia, which launched the Spektr-RG spacecraft, is also listed as the sole owner on the UN list of space objects.

"By being both a registering state and a launch state, Russia's control over the object is quite strong," Johnson told, referring to the Outer Space Treaty, a United Nations document that lays out the rules for international cooperation in outer space.

"Germany still has eROSITA, despite being on the Russian spacecraft, and both parties have an obligation to cooperate and show respect for the other, and not to interfere with the other's right to explore space and conduct space science," Johnson continued.

Everything was going well for eROSITA before the invasion of Ukraine. The telescope, which observes the universe in X-rays, released its first data set to the scientific community in July 2021, revealing more than 3 million newly discovered black holes and neutron stars.

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