25 Years of Research Activity of the Space Research Centre Print E-mail

It is difficult to summarize the results of twenty five years of research activity of a multidisciplinary scientific institution such as the Space Research Centre. Since the bridge spanning different fields of research carried out by the institute is space technology, it seems appropriate to recollect some statistical data on the innovative scientific instruments which were put in space by the SRC over the past twenty five years.

During 1977 - 2001 the SRC staff developed, constructed and prepared for launch 44 instruments, of which 19 were used in sub-orbital rocket flights and 25 in satellite missions. The first experiments of the institute were launched chiefly on Soviet VERTICAL rockets within the framework of the INTERCOSMOS cooperative program, but the last rocket experiment was launched in 1992 onboard a NASA Terrier Black Brent rocket. The first satellite experiment involved two instruments, launched in 1986 onboard the IONOSONDE-2 mission (COSMOS-1809). Besides the INTERCOSMOS satellites, the instruments were also used onboard the space probes Phobos 1 and 2, Vega, and Mars-96 and were deployed on the Mir space station. Furthermore, a thermal sensor developed by the SRC is currently onboard the Huygens probe underway to Saturn and its satellite Titan as part of the international NASA/ESA planetary mission CASSINI.

Rakietowy doplerometr rentgenowski

Rocket X-ray dipole doplerometer

Besides the hardware launched into space the institute developed and constructed many unique ground-based appliances like the KOS ionosonde, laser range meter, microwave soil dampness tester, and a spectrometer to measure visual solar light reflective characteristics of natural objects, used to carry out research experiments by the SRC and other institutions.

Results of all space experiments performed by the SRC have been discussed in many scientific publications in international and national journals and conference proceedings. During 1992-2001, i.e. during the time period covered by regularly issued Annual Reports of the Institute that list publications and talks at international conferences by SRC scientists, they published 876 articles in referred international journals and proceedings including 338 registered in the SCI base.

How did the twenty five years of research activity of the Space Research Centre contribute to the global knowledge of the Earth and its space environment? Beginning from everyday applications, let us mention three issues. The first one is connecting Poland to the European fundamental geodetic reference system EUREF (European Reference Frame). Using a global satellite positioning system GPS, it was for the first time in Poland that a unified geodetic network was constructed and connected to the European network. The Polish network has 358 nodes with coordinates measured with centimeter accuracy [1,2]. It facilitates practical applications in a common reference system with the European Union countries as well as scientific research. It was further developed and combined with the altitude system through inclusion of GPS, leveling and tide gauge measurement data. A second issue is the establishment of a Polish National Atomic Time Scale, which was developed with a newly devised method of multi-channel GPS and GLONASS time transfer [3]. Another issue is development of a model of the ionosphere above Europe [4]. The model is used by the SRC to provide state of the art heliogeophysical prediction service for the national telecommunications service and the International Space Environment Service (ISES).

A look at the Earth as a planet draws attention to two further aspects of SRC activity. On one hand, continuous activity of the institute in a framework of international measurement networks in geodynamics and laser observations of satellites is supported by continuous activity of the Astro-Geodynamical Observatory in Borowiec. During the last decades this observatory changed its profile from the traditional astronometry to modern and precise satellite techniques, including satellite laser ranging and GPS measurements. It contributes now to global Earth observing networks such as International Earth Rotation Service, International GPS Geodynamical Service etc. Analysis brought discovery of short-term oscillations of the Earth pole, perturbations of its rotation and their correlation with some geophysical phenomena [5]. Further, irregular variations in nutation were observed [6]. The geoid for the territory of Poland was completed as well. The obtained solution takes full account of all the gravimetric data accessible and thes global model based on satellite data [7]. Tidal observation regularly performed at Polish permanent stations involved studies of interaction of three elements: the level of underground waters, the Earth’s tides and the state of atmosphere were [8].

On the other hand, numerous rocket and satellite experiments enabled getting a strong grasp on the electromagnetic environment of the Earth and the discovery of its anthropogenic patterns [9].

The SRC has specialized in investigation of space plasmas. Experiments on interaction of emitted from the spacecraft electron beams as well as charged neutral beams consisting of ions and electrons with space plasma gave information on excitation and propagation of plasma waves. Many rocket and satellite experiments performed up to now with the participation of SRC scientific teams have clarified the nature and features of these phenomena. They contributed to the development of plasma physics by the use of space as a unique plasma laboratory and enhanced knowledge of the upper atmosphere [10]. Studies of scintillation of the electromagnetic waves emitted by Earth’s satellites enabled development of a picture of turbulence in the ionosphere, which is an important factor in the models of this region and has to be taken into account in predictions of electromagnetic waves propagation conditions [11]. The existence of thin current sheets during magnetic storms in the polar regions of terrestrial magnetosphere was predicted. A new plasma population in the inner magnetosphere, called in literature a warm shell of the plasma sheet, was discovered [12]. Furthermore, it was discovered that cusp has a small scale filament structure observed as well at its outer part on ionospheric altitudes [13]. Experimental and theoretical studies of the solar corona, where the plasma temperature is millions of Kelvins hot, and in particular development of the methodology to collect and analyze X-ray spectra of solar flares, made it possible to determine the chemical composition of solar plasma and to better understand the processes of energy deposits in the solar corona [14,15].

Jonosferyczny Radiospektrometr

Ionospheric Radiospectrometr

Among the interesting results of studies of interaction of the solar wind plasma with the Local Interstellar Medium, conducted with particular stress on the analysis of the shape of the heliopause and physical processes going on in its vicinity, interpretation on the source of interplanetary radio emission at 2-3 kHz observed by VOYAGER deserves special attention [16]. In addition to that, the first realistic model of density, velocity and temperature of interstellar hydrogen within the interplanetary space was developed, including non-stationary effects of solar radiation pressure and ionisation rate [17]. The SRC also took part in the experiment of the first in-situ detection of neutral interstellar helium atoms on ULYSSES [18] and in the interpretation of helium pick-up ion data from AMPTE/IRM where the existence of neutral helium cone, predicted by theoretical studies conducted in the SRC, was experimentally confirmed [19]. Theoretical models of planetary magnetotails were developed, which brought predictions on the shapes of these plasma formations; the models for Earth and Jupiter were confirmed experimentally by ISEE 3 and VOYAGER, respectively [20]. The results of the time-dependent, 3D MHD model of interaction of the solar wind with fully ionised interstellar matter and the local Galactic magnetic field were used to explain the asymmetries of a non-spherical bow shock of the heliosphere seen in the data from the Hubble Space Telescope (spectroscopic) and VOYAGER (photometric) [21].

The investigation of the plasma environment of Comet Halley during the VEGA mission brought discovery of morphology of plasma waves around the cometary nucleus. An interesting, though unexpected, development during the mission was the use of a double probe antenna as a detector of dust particles [22].The contribution of SRC to investigations of subtle effects in cometary motion also has to be pointed out.

For the first time a cometary nucleus and its activity were observed during the Halley campaign; the SRC used this information to develop a model of nongravitational forces affecting the cometary motion and to include it in orbital studies [23]. Among many periodic comets whose models of motion were constructed, Comet Wirtanen that will be thoroughly studied by the future ESA milestone mission ROSETTA [24] is included as well.

The SRC started the new century with strong involvement in planetary and space science as well as technology. An example of this is work devoted to modelling the Mars atmosphere for the needs of future space missions [25].

The Agreement on Cooperation between Poland and ESA, which was signed in 1994 and renegotiated and modified in 2001, helped to prepare the SRC instruments to be included in the cornerstone ESA missions such as: CASSINI/HUYGENS to Saturn, MARS EXPRESS to Mars, INTEGRAL - the Gamma Ray Laboratory, ROSETTA to Comet Wirtanen, and HERSCHEL to study the connection between formation of stars and planetary systems with interstellar medium. Bilateral cooperation with Russia resulted in the SRC’s huge involvement in the CORONAS F mission. The SRC enlarged Polish involvement in space exploration by participation in the EU’s research programs like COST and Framework 5th.


Fourierowski Spektrometr Podczerwieni

Infrered Fourier Spectrometer



1. ZIELIŃSKI J.B., ŁYSZKOWICZ A., JAWORSKI L., SWIATEK A., ZDUNEK R., GELO S., POLREF-96 - the New Geodetic Reference Frame for Poland. Advances in Positioning and Reference Frames, IAG Symposia, Vol. 118, pp. 161-166, Springer-Verlag 1998.

2. ZIELIŃSKI J.B., JAWORSKI L., SWIATEK A., ZDUNEK R., Report on the Analysis of the Network GPS Campaign 97 (EUVN'97), EUREF Symposium, pp. 118-128, 1998.

3. LEWANDOWSKI W., NAWROCKI J., AZOUBIB J., First use of IGEX precise ephemerides for intercontinental GLONASS P-code time transfer. Journal of Geodesy, Vol. 75, pp. 620-625, 2001.

4. STANISŁAWSKA I, JUCHNIKOWSKI G., Hanbaba R., ROTHKAEHL H., Sole G., ZBYSZYŃSKI Z., COST 251 Recommended Instantaneous Mapping Model of Ionospheric Characteristics - PLES. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth C, Vol. 25, pp. 291-294, 2000.

5. KOSEK W., KOŁACZEK B., Semi-Chandler and Semiannual Oscillation of Polar Motion. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 24, pp. 2235-2238, 1997.

6. BRZEZIŃSKI A., CAPITAN N., The use of the precise Observations of the Celestial Ephenieris Pole in the analysis of geophysical excitation of earth rotation. J. Geophys Res Vol. 98, No B4 pp. 6667-6675, 1993.

7. ŁYSZKOWICZ A., The New Gravimetric Geoid for the Territory of Poland. Publication of the Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Science. Vol. M-18 (273) pp. 151-197, 1996.

8. CHOJNICKI T., Earth tides observations at Polish permanent stations 0905 and 0906, Proceedings of the Twelfth International Symposium on Earth Tides, Beijing, New York pp. 115-127, 1985.

9. KŁOS Z., KIRAGA A., Pulinets S., Broad-Band Hectometric Emission in the Topside Ionosphere Created by Ground-Based Transmitters. Advances in Space Research, Vol. 10, pp. 7(77)-7(80), 1990.

10. KIRAGA A., KŁOS Z., Oraevsky V., Dokukin V., Pulinets S., Electromagnetic Emissions in the Ionosphere-Pulsed Electron Beam System. Geophysical Monograph 103, pp. 185-191, 1998.

11. WERNIK A.W., Yeh K.C., Chaotic behavior of ionospheric scintillation: modeling and observations. Radio Science, Vol. 29, pp. 135-144, 1994.

12. ZWOLAKOWSKA D., POPIELAWSKA B., Tail plasma domains and the auroral oval - result of mapping based on the Tsyganenko 1989 magnetosphere model. Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity, Vol. 44, pp. 1145-1158, 1992.

13. BŁĘCKI J., KOSSACKI R., WRONOWSKI R., Nemecek Z., Safrankowa J., Savin S., Sauvaud J.A., Romanov S., JUCHNIEWICZ J., Klimov S., Triska P., Smilauer J., Simunek J., Low Frequency Plasma Waves Observed in the Outer Polar Cusp. Advances in Space Research, Vol. 23, pp. 1765-1768, 1999.

14. SYLWESTER J., Lemen J.R., Bentley R.D., Fludra A., Zolcinski M-C., Detailed evidence for Flare-to-Flare Variations of the Coronal Calcium Abundance, Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 501, pp. 397-407, 1998.

15. SYLWESTER B., The Analysis of Energy Release in Solar Flares Based on X- Ray Observations B, Sylwester, Space Sci. Rev., 76, 319-337, 1996.

16. CZECHOWSKI A., GRZĘDZIELSKI S., Frequency drift of 3 kHz interplanetary radio emissions: Evidence of Fermi accelerated trapped radiation in a small heliosphere. Nature, Vol. 344, pp. 640-641, 1990.

17. RUCIŃSKI D., BZOWSKI M., Modulation of interplanetary hydrogen distribution during the solar cycle. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 296, pp. 248-263, 1995.

18. BANASZKIEWICZ M., Witte M., Rosenbauer H., Determination of interstellar helium parameters from the ULYSSES-NEUTRAL GAS experiment: Method of data analysis. Astronomy and Astrophysics Suppl. Ser., Vol. 120, pp. 587-602, 1996.

19. BZOWSKI M., Fahr H.J., RUCIŃSKI D., Scherer H., Variation of bulk velocity and temperature anisotropy of neutral heliospheric hydrogen during the solar cycle. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 326, pp. 396-411, 1997.

20. GRZĘDZIELSKI S., MACEK W., An open magnetopause model of the earth’s distant tail based on ISEE-3 evidence. Journal of Geophysical Researche, Vol. 93, pp. 1795-1808, 1988.

21. Ben-Jaffel L., Puyoo O., RATKIEWICZ R., Echoes from the frontier between the solar wind and the local interstellar cloud. Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 533, pp. 924-930, 2000.

22. OBERC P., Small-scale dust structures in Halley’s coma; evidence from the Vega-2 electric field records. Icarus, Vol. 140, pp. 156-172, 1999.

23. SITARSKI G., On the nongravitational motion of Comet P/Halley. Acta Astronomica, Vol. 38, pp. 253-268, 1988.

24. KRÓLIKOWSKA M., SZUTOWICZ S., Oblate sferoid model of nucleus of Comet 46P/Wirtanen. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 343, pp. 997-1000, 1999.

25. BŁĘCKA M.I., JUREWICZ A., Modeling the Seasonal vaviations of solar radiation scattered from the dust ring of Mars in “Planetary systems: the longvier, eds L.M. Celnikier, J. Tran Thanh Van, Frontieres 1998, pp 161-164, 1999.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 13:40

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