China is planning to launch an independent orbital service that will, possibly, outshine NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Chinese authorities announced a plan to launch a Hubble-like space telescope along with building a space station in the coming years.
Gu Yidong, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a technology consultant for China’s manned space flight project, said that the facility’s field of view will be 300 times larger than NASA’s Hubble space telescope and the optical cabin will be connected with the space station.
Gu further revealed that while the observatory will be just 2m in diameter, it will boast an unmatched observational depth and resolution. The space telescope will take only 10 years to review 40 percent of the observable universe. With efficient imaging capabilities, the telescope will probably satisfy a series of astronomy research needs like spotting exoplanets and exploring for dark energy and dark matter.
On the contrary, NASA’s Hubble space telescope, launched in 1990, orbits only the outer atmosphere of Earth to take extremely HD images of deep space.
At present, Chinese authorities have planned a series of scientific research platforms and services for the futuristic space station and the optical facility is the biggest confirmed plan from China so far.
The optical cabin will reportedly carry out heterochromatic photometry and slitless spectroscopy sky surveys. The facility will reside in orbit with the space station and when optical cabin will need any maintenance or upgrade, it will connect the station.
Reports suggest that China’s space station, which can be used for an array of scientific researches, will probably be ready in 2020.
Hubble-like space telescope is not the only plan of China; Chinese authorities have planned to blast-off 5 new space science satellites, including SMILE, MIT and WCOM as a part of China’s fast-growing space science program within about 5 years.
Of the five upcoming satellites, SMILE (Solar wind Magnetosphere lonosphere Link Explorer) is another major satellite set to be launched in 2021. The project is aimed at studying the effects of Sun on Earth’s environment and space weather by making pictures of the interactions between Earth’s magnetosphere and solar winds with X-ray and ultraviolet technology.
Director of National Space Science Center under CAS, Wu Ji believes that the space satellite program will be shortly listed in the national scientific development outline and get constant financial support for transforming China from a ‘pursuer’ to a ‘frontrunner’.
Wu says all the satellite projects are selected as per their scientific significance by judging committees directed by scientists in an attempt to provide a “vent for their innovation potential”.