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Old 07-27-2016, 06:34 PM
SHARKBITEATTACK SHARKBITEATTACK is offline
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What Are The Greatest Scientific Discoveries Learned From the Soviet/Russian Space Program

What are some of the greatest discoveries that the world learned from the Soviet and subsequent Russian Space program? The easy ones are "the firsts" things like proving dogs and then humans could orbit the earth and return safely. Did we learn anything major from any of their unmanned missions, such as probes that were sent out to other planets? Other discoveries from expirements on MIR?

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Old 07-27-2016, 07:47 PM
Ionizer Ionizer is offline
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The Soviets had the Venus probe missions (the Venera's).

One of those missions was able to conclude/prove plate-tectonics upon another planet. That was a first, I believe. Plenty of sciencey stuff was discovered about Venus from all the Venera missions.

The Soviets were also the first to return samples from the Moon via the Luna missions (robotic 'landers'). Prior to that, they got the first close-up images of the lunar surface.

Of course, that has all been surpassed, by far. But for the times, they were pretty good and persistent at what at they were trying to do, IMHO, until Cold War stuff/politics began costing them too much to progress as fast as the US/others. Judgement call on what was the greatest result, I guess. I'm sure there's more but that's all I recall myself. I don't know if the development of the still-in-use and rather dependable Soyuz really counts as a "discovery" (maybe in the specific engineering thereof?), but its a heck of an old(er) workhorse as far I am concerned.
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:58 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Originally Posted by Ionizer View Post
The Soviets were also the first to return samples from the Moon via the Luna missions (robotic 'landers'). Prior to that, they got the first close-up images of the lunar surface.

Of course, that has all been surpassed, by far. But for the times, they were pretty good and persistent at what at they were trying to do, IMHO, until Cold War stuff/politics began costing them too much to progress as fast as the US/others. Judgement call on what was the greatest result, I guess. I'm sure there's more but that's all I recall myself. I don't know if the development of the still-in-use and rather dependable Soyuz really counts as a "discovery" (maybe in the specific engineering thereof?), but its a heck of an old(er) workhorse as far I am concerned.
To be clear, they were the first to return lunar soil via a robotic probe. Apollo 11 was still the first to return any lunar material period. In fact Armstrong had a small bag on his leg and the very first thing he was to do upon walking on the surface (after "...a giant leap") was scoop up some dirt and fill it. It was referred to as the 'contingency sample', meaning in case the LM started falling over or their suits failed etc. they were to be absolutely sure to get at least some soil for return.

I would agree that the most important thing the Soviet/Russian Space Program showed is that once you have a reliable booster, stick with it! The Space Shuttle was the biggest, costliest (in money and lives) blunder in space history. There is no reason we shouldn't, to this day, still be using the Saturn V/1B for heavy & medium lift LEO manned & unmanned missions. It would have been safer and cheaper (much safer & cheaper) than the Shuttle ever was.
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:07 PM
Riemann Riemann is offline
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Use a pencil.

Ok, it's an urban legend, but the real story of the space pen is somewhat interesting:
http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

Last edited by Riemann; 07-27-2016 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:54 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is online now
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The Soviets had the Venus probe missions (the Venera's) ... [snip]
Nice call ... the USA has never landed a probe on the surface of Venus ... the Russians landed 8.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:18 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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They were the first to obtain images of the far side of the moon. I remember, at the time, how freaky it felt to see the side of the moon that no earth creature had ever seen.
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Old 07-28-2016, 02:05 AM
Ionizer Ionizer is offline
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To be clear, they were the first to return lunar soil via a robotic probe.
Very true, and my bad. I was watching Little Big Man (one of my favorite movies) while typing at same time and criss-crossed my thoughts. Thx for correcting me/that

A tangent question about the far-side images: Didn't the Soviets withold those images until after the USA had their own, or had put US footprints upom the Moon? Or was it some other specific data/subject of "great discovery"? IIRC, there was some great Soviet stuff (not meaning eqpt-specs or such) they witheld to themselves for a period of time due to their politiking or whatever and just curious if this part of it.....not wanting to derail, though.
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Old 07-28-2016, 08:33 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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I believe that their long-term space station and the long-term stays in orbit by a number of their astronauts provided a wealth of biomedical information about the effects of gravity (or lack thereof) on the human body.
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:02 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ionizer View Post
A tangent question about the far-side images: Didn't the Soviets withold those images until after the USA had their own, or had put US footprints upom the Moon? Or was it some other specific data/subject of "great discovery"? IIRC, there was some great Soviet stuff (not meaning eqpt-specs or such) they witheld to themselves for a period of time due to their politiking or whatever and just curious if this part of it.....not wanting to derail, though.
Six of the Lunik 3 farside images were publicized contemporarily. Mind you they were not particularly good images -- basically they took film photographs that were processed inside the probe then a TV image of the processed photograph transmitted down.
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:09 AM
Pixel_Dent Pixel_Dent is offline
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I would agree that the most important thing the Soviet/Russian Space Program showed is that once you have a reliable booster, stick with it! The Space Shuttle was the biggest, costliest (in money and lives) blunder in space history. There is no reason we shouldn't, to this day, still be using the Saturn V/1B for heavy & medium lift LEO manned & unmanned missions. It would have been safer and cheaper (much safer & cheaper) than the Shuttle ever was.
While I don't argue with the conclusion, don't you think that's more of an engineering "discovery" rather than a scientific one as per the thread title?
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:06 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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The Soviets had the Venus probe missions (the Venera's).

One of those missions was able to conclude/prove plate-tectonics upon another planet. .
Huh? Venus does not have plate tectonics, as far as we know. Perhaps someone thought it did back then.
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:39 PM
Ionizer Ionizer is offline
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While I don't argue with the conclusion, don't you think that's more of an engineering "discovery" rather than a scientific one as per the thread title?
I guess I fought my ignorance in mentioning the Soyuz. According to Boston University College of Engineering, engineering is not science, per se, nor a subset of science. I'd say it might be arguable at certain levels (IANAEng and IANASci) but there it is - a credible cite regarding the subject of engineering -v- science and thread's subject/title.

Perhaps (probably??) some science itself was involved in some concepts/ideas used in R & D of the Soyuz itself, overall, in regards to the OP's title of "What are the greatest scientific...", but that, to me, might be a debate of opinions of degrees of greatness rather than a subject pertaining to this GQ-located* thread.

And to JRDelirious - thx for that info!

* IMHO anyways - which seems to be where this thread should be anyways now that I am over-thinking it... Not gonna report thread for forum change, though. I could be wrong and don't want to muddle/derail with the aspect of certain discoveries being greater than others - seems fine right here already (shrug)
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:55 PM
Ionizer Ionizer is offline
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Huh? Venus does not have plate tectonics, as far as we know. Perhaps someone thought it did back then.
Good catch - I should have said just "tectonics", as stated in the link; not *plate* tectonics. My bad with the terms being so commonly used together re: Earth. Mea culpa, etc... Thx for the correction!

From the wiki article's Scientific Findings section (w/ the cite listed that info based upon):
Quote:
For example, after analyzing the radar images returned from Venera 15 and 16, it was concluded that the ridges and grooves on the surface of Venus were the result of tectonic deformations.[4]
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Old 07-28-2016, 07:30 PM
SHARKBITEATTACK SHARKBITEATTACK is offline
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Good contributions @Ionizer. Although I wouldn't consider the success of the Soyuz a scientific discovery in the same manner as one based upon a mission or series of missions. For example, through the Apollo landings we discovered what the composition of the moon was from samples brought back to earth.

I actually started another thread a couple years back about why the shuttle was retired without an immediate successor. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=699487

I really admire the shuttle but IMO it was just wayyy overcomplicated to be cost effective and safe. It was hardly reusable when you consider all the work that had to be done in-between flights

The Soviets shuttle and Energia heavy rocket system was a marvel of engineering as well. I would have loved if the program continued for a few more years so that they were able to actually "shuttle" cosmonauts to MIR. Then again maybe it's better they cut their (financial) losses when they did. Guess we'll never know... Anyhow keep the discussion going folks! There's no right or wrong answers here.



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Old 07-28-2016, 09:07 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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engineering is not science, per se, nor a subset of science.
The hell it isn't. I recall watching my professors in graduate school working on a problem medical scientists had asked them to measure aerosols.
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:12 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is online now
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Probably the biggest one was one we could have learned but didn't until our own fatal accident. I'm speaking of course of the flammability of material in low pressure pure oxygen along with the issue of escape given the large pressure differential caused by a fire under those circumstances.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:15 PM
Ionizer Ionizer is offline
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The hell it isn't. I recall watching my professors in graduate school working on a problem medical scientists had asked them to measure aerosols.
So scientists asked engineers to make measurements for them? Is that what you are saying? Sounds like two separate disciplines working there (to me).

I cited a College of Engineering stating otherwise. Plz fight my ignorance....plenty of Google hits state it is not a science in and of itself. A great meaningful quote from here:

Quote:
Scientists are the ones who create the theories, engineers are the ones who implement them.
I admit that site is not very authoritative, but that statement seems spot-on, right?

See here, too. When the Institue for Electrical and Electronic Engineers says its not, I'll believe them:

Quote:
Science is about understanding the origins, nature, and behavior of the universe and all it contains; engineering is about solving problems by rearranging the stuff of the world to make new things.
Since this is kinda derailing, I'll go no further on this myself since IANAS and IANAE.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:47 PM
Velocity Velocity is online now
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Probably the biggest one was one we could have learned but didn't until our own fatal accident. I'm speaking of course of the flammability of material in low pressure pure oxygen along with the issue of escape given the large pressure differential caused by a fire under those circumstances.
I understand hindsight is 20/20, but.........shouldn't this hazard have been obvious?
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Old 07-29-2016, 12:01 AM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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I understand hindsight is 20/20, but.........shouldn't this hazard have been obvious?
Not really. During flight, the partial pressure of oxygen would have been similar to that of the earth's atmosphere. It's reasonable to think that any material that isn't a huge fire risk on the ground would be OK to use in a low-pressure pure-oxygen environment. NASA got away with the same system for all Mercury and Gemini flights, and the risk was not fully understood until the Apollo 1 accident.

Last edited by scr4; 07-29-2016 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 07-29-2016, 04:28 AM
GWF Hefel GWF Hefel is offline
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In terms of applied science, I think their most notable contribution was Luna 9 discovering the Moon was not covered in meters of dust. It sounds silly now but this was a concern back then.



In terms of pure science, I think they missed out on an obvious and important scientific discovery: the Van Allen radiation belt.
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Old 07-29-2016, 01:07 PM
JoseB JoseB is offline
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Probably the biggest one was one we could have learned but didn't until our own fatal accident. I'm speaking of course of the flammability of material in low pressure pure oxygen along with the issue of escape given the large pressure differential caused by a fire under those circumstances.
Well, the problem is that the Soviets kept this accident hidden. According to the Wikipedia article, news of that incident did not reach the West until 1980, and it was not made public to Soviet readers until 1986...
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Old 07-29-2016, 06:28 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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While I don't argue with the conclusion, don't you think that's more of an engineering "discovery" rather than a scientific one as per the thread title?
Actually yeah. I kind of misinterpreted the OP to mean long-term lessons learned from the Soviet/Russian program.

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Not really. During flight, the partial pressure of oxygen would have been similar to that of the earth's atmosphere. It's reasonable to think that any material that isn't a huge fire risk on the ground would be OK to use in a low-pressure pure-oxygen environment. NASA got away with the same system for all Mercury and Gemini flights, and the risk was not fully understood until the Apollo 1 accident.
Well, yes and no. Using pure oxygen in orbit at low pressure wasn't the danger. It was using pure oxygen at 16 psi in tests on the ground (like Apollo 1) that was dangerous. But yes, NASA obviously knew this, but they had gotten complacent about it and let 'go-fever' take over (both the managers and the astronauts). Had we have heard (and seen photos) about the gory details of the Russian accident of a high pressure, pure oxygen fire inside a manned capsule it might have gone a long way to thinking twice about its safety.
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