China Launches Latest Satellite

IAS Prelims 2023

Current Affairs: China successfully launched the country’s first space telescope in search for signals of dark matter.

The Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite was launched on a Long March 2-D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.

Aqua satellite - 3D renderIt will enter a sun-synchronous orbit at a height of 500 km to observe the direction, energy and electric charge of high-energy particles in space.

The satellite is designed to undertake a three-year space mission, but scientists hope it could last five.

The 1.9-tonne desk-sized satellite could help shine more light on the hypothetical mass during that short period.

Dark matter, which does not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be observed directly, is one of the huge mysteries of modern science.

Theorised by scientists who could not understand missing mass and strangely bent light in faraway galaxies, dark matter has become widely accepted in the physics community even though its existence has never been concretely proven.

Scientists now believe that only around five per cent of the total mass-energy of the known universe is made up of ordinary matter — protons, neutrons, electrons — whereas dark matter and dark energy make up the rest.

China also runs an underground dark matter lab in the southwest province of Sichuan, some 2,400 metres under the earth’s surface.

DAMPE will support research using the third method, scientists are hoping the findings will help clarify previous observation results and lift the “invisible cloak” of dark matter.

Wukong will scan space in all directions in the first two years and focus on sections where dark matter is most likely to be observed afterward.

The new satellite’s observation spectrum is approximately nine times wider than the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer onboard the International Space Station, while its energy resolution is at least three times higher than its international peers, according to Chang.