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China Launches Its Very Own Space Telescope

Jun 19, 2017 10:22 AM EDT
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China's first ever x-ray space telescope launched into orbit.
(Photo : VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

China has recently launched its very own X-ray space telescope into an orbit of 342 miles above the Earth.

Dubbed as Insight, the 2.5-tonne Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) was sent into space using a Long March-4B rocket that was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi Desert.

"Our telescope may discover new phenomena or even new celestial bodies," said Zhang Shuangnan, the lead scientist for Insight X-ray space telescope, in a report from Xinhua Net. "We are looking forward to new findings that nobody can predict."

Insight boasts a trio of detectors that gives the satellite larger detection area, broader energy range and wider field of view than any other X-ray space satellite used by other countries. HXMT's detectors include a high-energy x-ray telescope (HE), medium-energy x-ray telescope (ME) and low-energy x-ray telescope (LE). The satellite's HE has a detection area of more than 5,000 square centimeters and can be adjusted to observe gamma-ray burst.

The main missions of Insight are to provide more information regarding the evolution of black holes and observe strong magnetic fields and pulsars' interior. The x-ray space satellite could also help further help understand how pulsars can be used for spacecraft navigation and search for gamma-ray bursts that correspond to gravitational waves.

The launch of Insight is just the first to a series of probes to be sent to space by China. As part of the country's effort to further develop its space science, China is planning to launch four more probes into space before 2021.

According to a report from Space Daily, the China-Italy Electromagnetic Monitoring Experiment Satellite is expected to launch by August of this year. This will be followed by the launch of the China-France Oceanography Satellite in 2018. In 2020, China plans to send its first ever Mars probe. On the other hand, a China-France astronomical satellite is slated to launch in 2021.

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