July 20, 2024

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France and China launch a satellite in an attempt to explore the universe Space news

France and China launch a satellite in an attempt to explore the universe  Space news

China’s progress in space exploration exceeds that of the United States and attracts partners from Europe and Asia.

A satellite developed by France and China was launched to search for the most powerful explosions in the universe, in a prominent example of cooperation between a Western power and the Asian giant.

On Saturday, the 930-kilogram (2,050-pound) satellite carrying four instruments – two French and two Chinese – lifted off at around 3pm (07:00 GMT) aboard a Chinese Long March 2C rocket from a base in Xichang. In the southwest province of China. China Central Broadcasting Corporation (CCTV) in Sichuan reported.

The Space Variable Object Observer (SVOM), developed by engineers from both countries, will search for gamma-ray bursts, the light of which traveled billions of light-years to reach Earth.

Gamma-ray bursts typically occur after the explosion of massive stars — those 20 times more massive than the Sun — or the merger of compact stars.

Extremely bright cosmic rays can emit a blast of energy equivalent to that of more than a billion suns.

Uri Gottlieb, an astrophysicist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York, told AFP that observing them is like “looking back in time, as the light from these objects takes a long time to reach us.”

“SVOM has the potential to unravel many mysteries in the field [gamma-ray bursts, GRBs]“Including the detection of the most distant gamma-ray bursts in the universe, which correspond to the oldest gamma-ray bursts,” Gottlieb added.

The most distant explosions identified so far occurred only 630 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was in its infancy.

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When the satellite is in orbit 625 kilometers (388 miles) above Earth, it will send its data to observatories. Once an explosion is detected, SVOM will send an alert to the team on duty around the clock.

When the data is analyzed, it can help better understand the composition of space, and the dynamics of gas clouds or other galaxies, according to analysts.

But the main challenge is that gamma-ray bursts are very short, leaving scientists racing against time to collect information.

A Long March 2C rocket carrying a satellite jointly developed by China and France called the Space Variable Object Observer (SVOM), lifts off from a base in Xichang, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. [Adek Berry/AFP]

This project stems from a partnership between the French and Chinese space agencies as well as other scientific and technical groups from both countries.

Space cooperation at this level between the West and China is also somewhat uncommon, especially since the United States banned any cooperation between the US space agency NASA and Beijing in 2011.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States, told AFP, “American concerns about technology transfer have prevented US allies from cooperating with the Chinese much, but it happens sometimes.”

McDowell added that while the SVOM is “by no means unique,” ​​it remains “important” in the context of space cooperation between China and the West.

China’s progress in space and lunar exploration is rapidly outpacing that of the United States, attracting partners from European and Asian countries as a result.

This month, the Chinese lunar probe Chang’e-6 carried payloads to the far side of the moon from the European Space Agency, as well as from Pakistani, French and Italian research institutes.

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China is working with countries including Brazil, Egypt and Thailand to develop and launch satellites.