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China’s first dark matter satellite concludes in-orbit testing

Friday, Mar 18, 2016,11:34 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Beijing | China’s first dark matter detection satellite has completed three months of in-orbit testing and found 460 million high energy particles in a 92-day flight, officials said today.

The satellite’s initial findings are expected to appear before the end of the year as it has completed three months of in-orbit testing, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said. Dark matter is an invisible material that makes up most of the universe’s mass. Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite Wukong detected 460 million high energy particles in a 92-day flight and sent about 2.4 TB of raw data back to Earth, DAMPE chief Scientist Chang Jin said. Launched on December 17 last year on a Long March 2-D rocket, Wukong was handed over to the CAS Purple Mountain Observatory yesterday.

The four major parts of the payload, a plastic scintillator array detector, a silicon array detector, a BGO calorimeter and a neutron detector, functioned satisfactorily. The satellite completed all set tests with all its technical indicators reaching or exceeding expectations, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Wukong is designed for a three-year mission. It will scan space nonstop in all directions in the first two years and then focus on areas where dark matter is most likely to be observed in the third.

The CAS yesterday released a report on the future of space science promising major progress and breakthroughs by 2030 in research into the formation and evolution of the universe and the search for extraterrestrial life. It will also strive to find new physical laws that supplant current basic theories.

The goals will be achieved by manned and unmanned programmes, including a black hole probe, a Mars probe and extraterrestrial life exploration. Chinese lawmakers on Wednesday approved the country’s economic and social development blueprint for the 2016-2020 period, including research on the origins of the universe and life. The Satellite was given the moniker Wukong name after the Monkey King from the Chinese classical fiction Journey to the West.