|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russia Leads Space-Based Earthquake Warning Project
May 9 (EIRNS)Under the headline "Portents of Earthquakes," state-owned Voice of Russia radio reports that "Russian and foreign experts will study the signs of earthquakes together. On the European part, the participants in the project are Germany, Italy, and Turkey; NASA, representing the U.S.A., and Greece are associated members. Russian science is represented by the Russian Space Systems company, the Fedorov Institute of Applied Geophysics, and the Pushkov Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio Waves Propagation.
"As early as 2006, the Russian Space Systems company built a network of ground stations to monitor the ionosphere on the island of Sakhalin. Scientists analyzed changes in this upper layer of the atmosphere caused by seismic activity. Since that time, Russian satellites have more than once registered ionospheric disturbance ahead of earthquakes. Seven hours before the first tremors in Japan, scientists discovered similar anomalies over the site of the forthcoming disaster. At that time, Russian experts did not know what to do with this information. Scientists thought it was premature to predict underground tremors on the basis of monitoring the ionosphere alone. They believed that this was only an indicator of some occurrences in the Earth. A whole system of overall investigation of earthquake signs is needed for well-grounded scientific earthquake forecasts.
"For this reason, an International Aerospace Monitoring System is being established within a joint project with the EU. The system is supposed to have a universal character in the future, the director and chief designer of the Russian Space Systems Yuri Urlichich told the Voice of Russia. 'The system will warn people of earthquakes as well as other catastrophes, such as meteorite danger, tsunami, and any other threats of a natural or anthropogenic character. I can give you one impressive example: From 1900 until today, about 36 million people have died in natural cataclysms.'
"It is planned to monitor the ionosphere mostly with the use of nano-satellites which weigh less than 10kg, Yuri Urlichich explained. 'To provide an overall coverage of the whole surface of the Earth, we propose to launch nano-satellites into orbit and to use the existing satellites as well, equipping them with the special-purpose gear. This will give us an opportunity to see a high content of free electrons over this or that surface, which is the sign of a coming earthquake.'
"The project of monitoring and analyzing the portents of earthquakes is financed by the EU. Italy functions as the coordinator on the part of united Europe. Some other countries also declared their intention to participate in the project. The final line-up of participants will be determined by the middle of October when all of them get together for a session on Sakhalin."