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my 15 years at iki by mike gruntman

Mike Gruntman

My Fifteen Years at IKI, the Space Research Institute:

Position-Sensitive Detectors and Energetic Neutral Atoms Behind the Iron Curtain

Interstellar Trail Press, 2022

ISBN 979-8985668704 (paperback)

ISBN 979-8985668711; ASIN B0BBJTZ24M (Kindle)

328 pages with 150+ figures
Bibliography: 160+ references

My Fifteen Years at IKI on Amazon

My 15 Years at IKI by Mike Gruntman

My Fifteen Years at IKI  – 2-page info (pdf)

My Fifteen Years at IKI, the Space Research Institute


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My 15 years at IKI

About the Book

scroll down to Table of Contents

This is a personal story of a young physicist in the Soviet Union, a country distinctly different from the Western world. Mike Gruntman worked primarily in space physics and on particle detectors and science instrumentation. He was among the early pioneers in the emerging field of imaging of space plasmas in fluxes of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs). Today, multiple space missions operate ENA imaging instruments.

The events in this book unfolded during the Cold War in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, the Iron Curtain stood firmly in place during the epic struggle between the dark forces of communism and the free world. Gruntman describes the life and work of a scientist in the totalitarian Soviet Union, including elite education in physics and engineering, the disfunction and ideological control of a centrally planned state, collaboration with scientists abroad, and the impact of foreign radio broadcasts. These, and other glimpses into the realities of the Soviet past, serve not only as background to the story; they also inform us about the nature of neo-Marxism, which is gaining popularity in the free world today.

The book has more than 150 figures, including several space reconnaissance photographs.

Selected bibliography includes more than 160 entries.

About the Author

Dr. Mike Gruntman is a professor of astronautics and the founder of a space engineering program at the University of Southern California (USC). As a child, he grew up on the Tyuratam (Baikonur) missile range and space launch base and went on to graduate from the Moscow Physical-Technical Institute (Fiztekh) and become a research fellow at the leading space science institute in the USSR Academy of Sciences, the Space Research Institute (IKI). Mike joined USC in March 1990. He is an accomplished specialist actively involved in R&D programs in space science and space technology and has authored and co-authored more than 300 scholarly publications, including six books.

Mike's videos on satellite orbitsvideos by mike gruntman

My Fifteen Years at IKI – Contents


Chapter 1. From Fiztekh to IKI

Fateful telephone call
Moscow Physical-Technical Institute MFTI (MIPT)
Fiztekh (Fiztech, PhysTech) and Fiztekh system
(history, founders, Dolgoprudny, faculties, classes, military (ROTC-type) training, IRBM SS-4, Ostrov)
New institute in the Academy of Sciences
Space Research InstituteIKI
Students at IKI
Science advisor or shef

Chapter 2. Department of Space Gas Dynamics

Semi-independent fiefdom
Atomic collisions laboratory
Rudderless without a helmsman
To join or not to join
Verboten travel and patriotic duty

Chapter 3. Blazing My Own Trail

Research fellow
Detection of interstellar helium atoms in ... 1975
Secondary electron multipliers (incl. VEU-1, VEU-6)
Master's thesis
My first publication was ... a NASA TM
Detecting individual neutral particles
Behaving oneself vs. having fun
PhD in the USSR (in leading, elite institutions)

Chapter 4. Per Aspera et cum Alcohol ad Astra

Rich in poverty and poor in riches
Universal hard currency
On "friends" and "friendship"
Squatters on technical floors
Vigilant guards on duty and on the take
On occasions and without
Working hours and after
Hole in the wall
Marxist stooges in developing world
Mystery of welded windows

Chapter 5. Position-Sensitive Detector: First Image and Beyond

Microchannel plates (MCPs) (incl. VEU-7)
Elektron and SNIIP
First image
Wedge-and-strip collector
Position-sensitive connections
No road to independence
Glacially slow advance
Special Astrophysical Observatory SAO
Optical 6-m telescope BTA-6, Radiotelescope RATAN-600
UV space telescope

Chapter 6. Boundary Conditions of Life and Work

Visitors in the land of real socialism
Leftism of intellectuals
Evolution of political views of scientists and engineers
A little bit more comfortable
Remote places in the wilderness
"Clandestine" advice
Snafu in science diplomacy
It all could end in one moment
Foreign radios
The free spirit in the ether
Broadcasting and jamming
Forbidden fruit of foreign broadcasting
Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe
CPSU and fellow travelers fight back,
Keeping the spirit of freedom alive
Printed word and Sir Winston

Chapter 7. Energetic Neutral Atoms

Birth of ENAs
Wandering in wilderness
Detecting neutral atoms directly
1979 List
ENA fluxes at 1 AU and in interstellar space
On a free range

Chapter 8. First Steps Together

Foreign entanglements
One sentence in a report
Professional growth
Interstellar helium experiment
MASTIF for interstellar helium and SIMS

Chapter 9. ENA Experiment That Never Flew

Ultrathin foils for TOF instruments
On the way to Phobos, sort of
GAS Experiment in the "heroic" ENA era
Road to IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer)
Extracurricular affairs in Poland,
NSZZ Solidarity, tear gas, and ZOMO in Gdansk in 1984
December 16, 1984: clashes with riot police ZOMO at Gdansk
Early advances of ENAs

Chapter 10. Neutral Atoms Reach Critical Mass

Serendipitous discovery of magnetospheric ENAs
International workshops on neutral atoms
What is 'Whoa'?
Fifth Workshop in Moscow
Trip to the Caucasus
Sumgait, Nagorno-Karabakh, Artsakh, Yerevan, and Armenia in 1988
Sixth Annual Meeting: COSPAR Colloquium

Chapter 11. Separation of Stages in Powered Ascent

Annual evaluation
Transfer to IPM
Whitish winter jacket from Gdansk to Moscow
Mission-critical event: separation of rocket stages
Ignition of the second stage
First days at USC; 30+ years at USC
Sic transit gloria universitatum
Sinister transformation and suicidal slide of American academia to socialist hell

Remarkable colleagues and friends

Appendix A. Neutral Atom Workshops in 1980s

Appendix B. Brief History of Energetic Neutral Atoms

Appendix C. Acronyms and Abbreviations

Appendix D. Pronunciation Guide

Appendix E. Selected Bibliography


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