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Russia deploys biggest underwater space telescope in Lake Baikal

Russian scientists on Saturday deployed one of the world’s biggest underwater space telescopes in Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world.  The telescope, which has been under construction since 2015, is the largest neutrino detector in the Northern Hemisphere.

The deep underwater telescope, known as Baikal-GVD, is designed to observe ‘Neutrinos’, the smallest particles currently known. Hard to detect neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles which make up the universe. Water is an effective medium to detect neutrinos. The telescope was submerged to a depth of 750-1,300 meters (2,500-4,300 feet), around four kilometers from the lake’s shore. The floating observatory consists of strings with spherical glass and stainless steel modules attached to them.

The construction of the telescope was a joint venture of scientists from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia. The telescope currently measures half a cubic kilometer. The scientists have plans to expand it to measure one cubic kilometer in the future.

Situated in south-east Siberia, the 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. Lake Baikal which contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve is also known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia’. Its age and isolation have produced one of the world’s richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.

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