China has made a huge leap forward in space science research, successfully launching its first dark matter satellite into orbit. The craft is set to shine a light on the most mysterious and unknown of space phenomenons.
A new satellite to unravel the one of the most elusive space mysteries.
China launched its first dark matter particle explorer, known as DAMPE, on Thursday. It will be in service for three years in a fresh search of dark matter, the invisible material that scientists believe makes up most of the universe's mass.
Nicknamed wukong after the monkey king with penetrating eyes in the Chinese classical novel journey to the west, the craft will enter an orbit at a height of 500 kilometers to observe the direction, energy and electric charge of high-energy particles in space.
One of the biggest technological challenges that scientists faced in the satellite's construction, is the low temperature conditions that must be maintained for the craft's successful operation. Scientific instruments operating in space need to be kept cold, even during take-off. The lowest temperature possible is normally 18 below zero, but wukong required even colder conditions.
"The biggest difference of this project, compared with previous, is the new launching status. Most importantly, it has to be launched in a very low temperature,"
"We have taken 21 measures to protect the engine. And we have also equipped heating and detecting systems to ensure the success of the launching in such a cold condition," said Xia Xiaopeng, Director of Jiuquan Satellite Launching Centre.
Dark matter, which does not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be observed directly, is one of the huge mysteries of modern science. Its existence, although still unproven, has become widely accepted in the physics community, meaning China's dark-matter project could be the first to discover the particles.
Roger Bonne, Executive Director of Int'l Space Science Research Institution said:"The dark matter project in china is very innovative, no body has defined such and ambitious program in such a short time."
The project is set to give humanity a clearer picture about the universe in the past and future and will definitely be revolutionary step forward for the world of physics and space science.