Collaborative SMILE project completes joint test

2023-02-16 13:19:20Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The China-Europe collaborative Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) satellite project completed a joint test recently, marking the first case of exporting Chinese satellites and equipment to the European Space Agency (ESA), the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) said on Tuesday.

A Chinese satellite team from the SMILE project recently traveled to the European Space Technology Centre (ESTEC) of the ESA to carry out an initial satellite-rocket joint test, completing the interface docking, satellite separation and impact tests, read a statement issued by the CAS on its website.

It was the first on-site exchange activity of the two sides' scientists teams since the SMILE mission-level prototype design review which was conducted two years ago. In order to ensure the successful completion of the mission, the Chinese satellite team temporarily exported three SMILE modules to ESA in December 2022, realizing the first export of Chinese satellites and equipment to ESA, CAS said.

Besides CAS and ESA, Arianespace, a French-based satellite launch company, and Airbus also participated in the test.

According to the joint research schedule, the SMILE mission team will go to Spain in April and Germany in May and September to carry out tests with the European groups. The SMILE satellite is scheduled to be injected into a low Earth's orbit in 2025, CAS said.

The satellite project is a CAS and ESA collaborative science mission designed to study the interaction between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere, and the geo-space dynamics that result, comprising a fundamental aspect of heliophysics, CAS detailed on its website.

It is the first joint satellite mission between ESA and CAS, following on from the success of the Double Star/Tan Ce mission which flew between 2003 and 2008. Every 51 hours, SMILE will fly out to 121 000 kilometers - almost one third of the distance to the Moon - giving it a prolonged view of Earth's northern polar regions, per ESA introduction.

Cooperation between China and Europe in space exploration began in the 1980s. In July 2001, China and the EU signed a cooperation agreement on the "Double Star Program", a major cooperation in space science and exploration, setting a good example of China-EU space cooperation.


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