Satel­lite project pro­gresses to­ward find­ing space waves

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Zhang Han

China’s Tian­qin satel­lite project has made break­throughs in the key tech­nolo­gies to de­tect grav­i­ta­tional waves, the project’s leader told a space science con­fer­ence in Guangzhou.

In-or­bit ver­i­fi­ca­tion can start as progress has been made on in­er­tial sens­ing, laser in­ter­fer­om­e­try, the drag-free con­trol sys­tem and satel­lite plat­form, Luo Jun, a physi­cist at the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences, also leader of Tian­qin pro­jetc, was quoted by the Xin­hua News Agency as say­ing at a sym­po­sium of the Xiang­shan Science Con­fer­ence.

Three high-or­bit satel­lites were launched at the end of Septem­ber, Luo said.

He noted that the four-phase 15 bil­lion yuan ($2.3 bil­lion) project, launched in 2015, should be ready to gauge waves by 2030.

Tian­qin’s tech­nol­ogy has per­formed well in lab and re­search is go­ing ahead as planned, Zhou Ze­bing, a physi­cist at Huazhong Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy, told Xin­hua.

Grav­i­ta­tional waves are rip­ples in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most vi­o­lent and en­er­getic pro­cesses in the uni­verse, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle pub­lished by the US-based Laser In­ter­fer­om­e­ter Grav­i­ta­tional-wave Ob­ser­va­tory, the first team in the world to de­tect the waves in 2015.

Un­like US’s lab­o­ra­tory which is ground-based, Tian­qin will be space­based, which will cut down on dis­tur­bances and pick up a wider range of grav­i­ta­tional ra­di­a­tion, Zhang Baoxin, an ex­pert at China Avi­a­tion News, told the Global Times.

“We will re­view the Tian­qin de- tec­tor de­vel­oper’s re­quire­ment for fu­ture launch of the de­tec­tion satel­lite; but the launch, as the fi­nal stage of the whole project, won’t be soon,” Zhang said.

Europe’s evolved Laser In­ter­fer­om­e­ter Space An­tenna (eLISA) is space-based de­sign but adopted a he­lio­cen­tric track while Tian­qin satel­lites will cir­cle the earth, Zhang said.

Ye Xianji, a pro­fes­sor at Sun Yat­sen Univer­sity in Guangzhou told Xin­hua, “The wave band Tian­qin is de­signed to de­tect will be 10 times higher than eLISA, so the two sets of de­tec­tors can com­ple­ment each other.”

Schol­ars from the US, Ger­many, Rus­sia, Italy, and Aus­tralia at­tended the Guangzhou con­fer­ence.

They have ex­pressed in­ter­est and will­ing­ness to col­lab­o­rate on the Tian­qin project, Xin­hua said.

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