The nation’s solar research will be boosted by the satellite
China’s solar observation satellite has achieved scientific and technological feats during its ongoing in-orbit test operation, according to a space official.
Zhao Jian, head of the China Space Administration’s Earth Observation System and Data Center, told a press conference in Beijing on Friday that the Xihe satellite, named after the sun goddess in ancient Chinese mythology, conducted more than 40 technological tests and more than 290 imaging operations and verified the capabilities of its equipment.
“As a solar research spacecraft, Xihe obtained the H-Alpha spectral lines from the sun, becoming the first satellite in the world to achieve this goal,” the official said.
“Scientists have long studied H-Alpha spectral lines to search for solar flares, but they have had to rely on ground-based viewing platforms that are affected by interfering factors such as atmospheric disturbances. Now our satellite began to provide with much better spectral data than before, allowing them to perform high resolution observations and images of the Sun.”
Zhao said it is important for mankind to study the sun because solar activities have many effects on life on Earth.
“Gaining more knowledge about the sun helps to avoid the harmful effects of solar activity, especially the disruption of Earth’s communication and navigation services, and to better protect spacecraft and astronauts” , did he declare.
Studying the sun also allows scientists to deepen their research into the origin and evolution of celestial magnetic fields, the acceleration and distribution of high-energy particles and other physical phenomena, the official said.
The press conference was organized by the State Council Information Office to release a white paper titled China’s Space Program: A 2021 Outlook, which reviews the country’s space activities over the past five years and defines the main tasks for the next five years.
The document is the fifth of its kind since 2000, when China released its first white paper on space activities.
Also known as China’s H-Alpha Solar Explorer, Xihe was launched on Oct. 14 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi Province. It is responsible for helping scientists learn more about our nearest star.
The 508-kilogram satellite is traveling in a sun-synchronous orbit about 517 kilometers above Earth.
China’s National Space Administration said the mission is expected to provide scientists with the first high-quality observational data from the source area of a solar flare and will improve China’s research capabilities in solar physics. This is very significant for the country’s space exploration and satellite technology, the administration said.
“We will release some of the scientific and technological achievements of the program this year,” Zhao said at the press conference.
According to Wang Wei, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering at the Shanghai Academy of Space Flight Technology and project manager of the satellite, Xihe is China’s first solar space telescope and is designed to operate for at least less than three years.
Its science payload is an H-alpha imaging spectrograph that can, for the first time, acquire full-disk spectroscopic solar observations in the H-alpha waveband, Wang said.