NASA’s new space telescope is in the home stretch of testing, with science observations expected to begin in July, astronomers said Monday.
The James Webb Space Telescope beamed back the latest test pictures of a neighboring satellite galaxy, and the results are stunning when compared with images taken by NASA’s previous infrared observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Each of the 18 mirror segments on the new telescope is bigger than the single one on Spitzer.
“It’s not until you actually see the kind of image that it delivers that you really internalize and go ‘wow!'” said University of Arizona’s Marcia Rieke, chief scientist for Webb’s near-infrared camera. “Just think of what we’re going to learn.”
Launched last December, the $10 billion Webb is the largest and most powerful astronomical observatory ever sent into space. It will seek light emitted by the first stars and galaxies close to 14 billion years ago, and keep a sharp lookout for possible signs of life.
Scientists are keeping the identity of Webb’s first official target a secret.
Positioned 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth, Webb is considered the successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope.
China’s space observation ship departs for 100th mission
China’s space observation ship, Yuanwang-3 on Thursday set sail for its first voyage this year from a port in east China’s Jiangsu Province. The vessel will carry out its 100th maritime mission during this voyage.
Yuanwang-3 has become the first ship of China’s Yuanwang fleet to embrace its 100th mission.
Commissioned on May 18, 1995, Yuanwang-3 is a second-generation Chinese space tracking ship for maritime measurement and control and communication missions for satellites, spacecraft, and space stations.
It has undertaken more than 90 maritime tracking and monitoring tasks for spacecraft, including the Shenzhou spaceships, Chang’e lunar probes, and BeiDou satellites.
Space agencies from BRICS countries begin satellite and data sharing
The BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, launched a new cooperation committee on Wednesday to share remote sensing satellites and data.
The new committee, composed of space agencies from the five countries, held its first meeting by video on the same day.
The shared data will help the countries to better protect the environment, reduce disaster risks and deal with climate change, according to Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Zhang said the committee involves higher-level cooperation among BRICS countries.
The meeting also passed technical standards of data sharing and the procedures for observation cooperation.
Carlos Augusto Teixeira de Moura, president of the Brazilian Space Agency, said Brazil will also commit to this cooperation.
Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Russia’s Roscosmos, said it’s important for BRICS countries to align their perspectives and coordinate efforts in the satellite constellation, as well as the peaceful use of outer space.
The five space agencies signed an agreement for cooperation in remote sensing satellite data sharing in August 2021.
The constellation contains six existing satellites from the five countries: Gaofen-6 and Ziyuan III 02, both developed by China, CBERS-4, jointly developed by Brazil and China, Kanopus-V type, developed by Russia, and Resourcesat-2 and 2A, both developed by India.
It also includes five ground stations in each member country.
China’s ground station for the constellation was established on April 24, China’s Space Day, in Wenchang, south China’s Hainan Province.
“This is the first time an international cooperation mechanism in Earth observation data reached this kind of scale and depth,” said Meng Lingjie, deputy chief of the Earth Observation Data Center of the CNSA.
He said shared satellite data could prove instrumental in issues of concern for developing countries.
“For example, in the pilot program for each country, the constellation will help address problems with food crises. Issues with food production are key for many. With its coverage, precision and timelines, the satellite constellation is good for mapping out grain output and monitoring damage from natural disasters and pests.
The CNSA also said it will put the BRICS constellation to better use and increase the number of satellites and ground stations.
Space cooperation between China and other countries
Gan Yong, an official from the Department of International Cooperation of the CNSA, said “BRICS cooperation in space will eventually facilitate high-quality partnership among BRICS countries.”
Gan also said the CNSA’s international cooperative endeavors have not swayed in the last two years, including in the recent period, even with the changes in the world situation.
“Since 2020, the world has faced unprecedented challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic. Those challenges have changed the landscape of space cooperation. But the CNSA and the Chinese government have been standing with their principle of equality and mutual benefits … and have been promoting international cooperation.”
Gan said the CNSA has continued to promote cooperation in lunar probe and deep space exploration, including in the Chang’e-6 and the following Chang’e-7 missions. He said the CNSA is working with international partners for jointly developing the international moon base for science.
The administration has also ramped up cooperation in satellite use, including the BRICS constellation and the Belt and Road Space Information Corridor.
“Recently, the global situation has affected the field of space development. But we believe so long as we aim to work together and take each other’s concerns in mind, we will achieve more in international cooperation and space exploration,” he told CGTN.
China’s first compressed air energy storage in salt cavern connects to grid
China’s compressed air energy storage in a salt cavern connected to the grid in Changzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, on Thursday.
This is the first time China has used a salt cavern for energy storage by compressing air.
The energy storage power station has compressed and stored the ambient air under pressure in an underground salt cavern. When the electricity is required, the pressurized air is heated and expanded in an expansion turbine driving a generator for power production.
The salt cavern was formed after the underground salt layer in an area was been mined, which is a stable confined place, ideal for compressing air. The salt cavern for this energy storage is about 1,000 meters deep under the ground, and has enough room for storage as about 105 swimming pools.
“The energy storage means we compress the air at off-peak time and release it at peak time so we can cut down the electricity cost,” said Xie Weiwei, deputy general manager of a subsidiary of China National Salt Industry Group Co. during an interview with China Media Group.
“The capacity of this energy storage reaches 300,000 kWh of electricity, an equivalent to the electricity consumption of 60,000 residents for one day.”
“The power plant successfully connected to the grid can help us use electricity more efficiently and be able to store other renewable energy such as the wind power and PV power,” said Lei Zhen, chief engineer of the control center of State Grid subsidiary in Jiangsu Province. “We are exploring more commercial applications for the energy storage technology.”
China’s space observation ship departs for 100th mission
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