Saturday, March 19, 2016

China's DAMPE Dark-matter Satellite Concludes In-orbit Testing

Artistic rendition of China's DAMPE satellite. Credit: DAMPE

China's first dark-matter detection satellite has completed three months of in-orbit testing, with initial findings expected to appear before the end of the year, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite "Wukong" detected 460 million high energy particles in a 92-day flight, sending about 2.4 TB of raw data back to Earth, DAMPE chief scientist Chang Jin said.

Launched on Dec. 17, 2015 on a Long March 2-D rocket, "Wukong" was handed over to the CAS Purple Mountain Observatory on Thursday.

The four major parts of the payload - a plastic scintillator array detector, a silicon array detector, a BGO calorimeter, and a neutron detector - functioned satisfactorily. The satellite completed all set tests, with all its technical indicators reaching or exceeding expectations.

"Wukong" is designed for a three-year mission. It will scan space nonstop in all directions in the first two years and then focus on areas where dark matter is most likely to be observed in the third.

The CAS on Thursday released a report on the future of space science promising "major progress and breakthroughs" by 2030 in research into the formation and evolution of the universe and the search for extraterrestrial life.

It will also strive to find new physical laws that supplant current basic theories.

The goals will be achieved by manned and unmanned programs, including a black hole probe, a Mars probe and extraterrestrial life exploration.

Chinese lawmakers on Wednesday approved the country's economic and social development blueprint for the 2016-2020 period, including research on the origins of the universe and life.

Credit: xinhuanet.com

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