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China aims to operate first large space telescope in orbit around 2024

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China’s first large space telescope is expected to start scientific operations around 2024 at the China Space Station, according to the country’s manned space program.

The Chinese Survey Space Telescope, also known as the Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST), or Xuntian (meaning “survey to heavens” in English) Space Telescope, is a space-based optical observatory for astronomers to carry out sky surveys, capturing a general map or images of the sky.

It will have a nominal mission lifetime of 10 years, which could be extended in principle.

As the optical cabin of China Space Station, whose construction is expected to be completed before the end of 2022, the Xuntian has an aperture of two meters and state-of-art detectors. It is a bus-sized facility, weighing more than 10 tonnes, with a length equal to that of a three-story building.

A T-shaped complex will be formed once the construction of the China Space Station is completed. /CFP

Developing prototype sample of Xuntian

According to Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China is developing the prototype sample of Xuntian with progress already made in the preliminary development process.

“The Xuntian Space Telescope consists of two parts. One is the Xuntian optical facility, and the other is the Xuntian platform. The former is a telescope which has many subsystems,” Zhan Hu, principal scientist of Xuntian optical facility and researcher from the National Astronomical Observatories of the CAS, told China Media Group (CMG).

The first-generation Xuntian Space Telescope consists of five observation apparatuses, including the Xuntian module, the terahertz module, the multichannel imager, the integral field spectrograph, and the extrasolar planetary imaging coronagraph. Among them, the Xuntian module, a camera with a wide field of view, will be mostly responsible for the observation.

Xu Shuyan, chief designer of the Xuntian optical facility and researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the CAS, told CMG that his team has completed developing all subsystems, components, and units of the Xuntian. They are now preparing for the joint test of Xuntian’s future space launch.

The Xuntian Space Telescope will be launched to space after the completion of the China Space Station. During its normal observations, the Xuntian will fly independently in the same orbit as the space station but will keep a significant distance from it.

An illustration of the solar system. /CFP

Unraveling cosmic mysteries

The Xuntian has a field of view 300 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope while retaining a similar resolution.

The Xuntian Space Telescope, also known as the CSST, is likely to be the largest space telescope for astronomy in the near-ultraviolet and visible scope in the decade before 2035, said Zhan Hu, project scientist of the CSST Optical Facility.

Li Ran, another project scientist of the CSST Scientific Data Reduction System, used the analogy of photographing a sheep flock to explain Xuntian’s capabilities. “Hubble may see a sheep but the CSST sees thousands, all at the same resolution.”

With a huge 2.5-billion-pixel camera, the Xuntian will be able to observe up to 40 percent of the sky over 10 years. It will also co-orbit Earth with the Chinese space station and periodically dock with the future crewed outpost.

Xuntian’s mission as a space optical observatory also includes investigating the properties of dark matter and dark energy, the cosmos, galaxy formation and evolution.

Source: CGTN

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China to improve sci-tech services for rural population

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China will launch a national campaign to better mobilize the science and technology sector to contribute to the country’s rural revitalization drive, according to a new set of guidelines.

Jointly issued by the China Association for Science and Technology and the National Rural Revitalization Administration, the guidelines specify a series of key tasks, including providing sci-tech training, lectures and industry-specific guidance to rural areas.

Sci-tech associations at all levels are called on to lead grassroots sci-tech workers to join in the work of rural revitalization.

The guidelines also require the relevant authorities to incorporate the construction of science popularization facilities into the overall layout of rural infrastructure, expand the service coverage of mobile science popularization facilities and build more sci-tech museums in rural secondary schools.

Source: Xinhua

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China’s Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere

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Tianzhou-3, a cargo spacecraft that carried supplies to China’s space station, made a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at 11:31 a.m. on Wednesday (Beijing Time), according to the China Manned Space Agency.

Tianzhou-3 makes a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, July 27, 2022. /CFP

The Long March-7 Y4 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-3 blasted off at 3:10 p.m. (BJT) on September 20, 2021, from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province. It carried about six tonnes of goods, including food items and spacesuits, to the country’s under-construction space station. Six and a half hours later, the cargo spacecraft docked with core module Tianhe at 10:08 p.m. (BJT) on the same day.

A 3D simulation of the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft docking with China’s space station. /China Manned Space Agency

The Tianzhou-3 separated from the space station core module Tianhe on July 17, 2022, after completing all assigned assembly tasks.

It is the third mission of China’s Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft and the second resupply mission to the space station after Tianzhou-2.

Source: CGTN

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Shanghai firm receives urgent monkeypox virus test kit orders from WHO

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Shanghai-based ZJ Biotech has received many urgent purchase orders from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its monkeypox virus test kit, and the company is now aiming to provide more support for accurate diagnosis and containment of the disease.

The WHO on Saturday activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The test kit developed by ZJ Biotech can accurately identify monkeypox virus by measuring the gene segment of the virus by specific fluorescence method.

“Currently the best detection method for many infectious pathogens across the world is the nucleic acid test, which has an accuracy rate of over 95 percent. It can reach more than 99 percent for some individual diseases,” said Shao Junbin, chairman of Shanghai ZJ Bio-Tech Co., Ltd.

The monkeypox virus test kit manufactured by the company has been sent to 41 countries and regions around the world. Of these, 24 emergency orders from the WHO were sent to 21 countries, covering Africa, Europe, Oceania and Southeast Asia.

At present, the company is in close contact with the WHO and health institutions in many countries around the world, aiming to provide support for accurate diagnosis and containment of the disease.

Source: CGTN

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