Amid news that Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 weighing 8.5-tonne will likely crash into Earth in a matter of few weeks, China’s National Space Science Center is getting closer to a finalized design for its next-generation X-ray observatory. The team working on the project plans to complete a prototype by 2022.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has announced that it has begun work on the enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry (eXTP) satellite, with a goal to launch it in 2025. Touted as China’s most ambitious space science satellite, the enhanced X-Ray Timing and Polarimetry (eXTP) mission will cost around $473 million.
Zhang Shuangnan, the principal investigator of eXTP from the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP), claims that the launch of eXTP satellite will likely bring China to a leading level in the world’s X-ray astronomy between 2025 to 2035. The satellite is a successor to the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) which was launched in June 2017.
“Since we have developed excellent technology and talent in X-ray astronomy, it’s highly possible that we can take a leading role in this field if we keep pursuing it with more advanced detection instruments,” Zhang said.
Notably, some of eXTP satellites advance features would include arrays for large-area spectroscopic focusing and collimator, polarimetry focusing as well as a wide-field monitor. The satellite would study black holes, neutron stars, and quarks, among other objects.
China will cover about two-thirds of the cost for eXTP while the remaining cost will be met by contributions in kind by European partners and the European Space Agency. The eXTP project has already attracted more than 100 research institutions from over 20 countries and regions, including Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. NASA is also currently designing its own next-generation X-ray observatory called Strobe-X.
China also has plans to land a rover on the far side of the moon, and on Mars, and to set up its own space station in the next two decades.
China plans to launch the world’s only enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry (eXTP) satellite before 2025 to study the state of matter under extreme conditions, such as black holes and neutron stars, the Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Friday. pic.twitter.com/UFy4hLelAU
— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) March 2, 2018