In an attempt to explore the universe, France, China satellite | Space news

China’s advances in space exploration outpace those of the United States and attract partners from Europe and Asia.

A satellite developed by France and China has exploded in the hunt for the universe’s most powerful explosions, in a remarkable example of cooperation between a Western power and an Asian giant.

On Saturday, the 930kg (2,050-pound) satellite carrying four instruments – two French, two Chinese – lifted off from a base in Xichang, southwest China’s province, on a Chinese Long March 2C rocket at around 3 a.m. (07:00 GMT). Sichuan’s state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Developed by engineers from both countries, the Space Variable Object Observatory (SVOM) will look for gamma-ray bursts, where this light has traveled billions of light years to reach Earth.

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

The brightest cosmic rays can emit energy equivalent to a billion suns.

Observing them “is like looking back in time, because the light from these objects takes a long time to reach us,” astrophysicist Ore Gottlieb of the Flatiron Institute Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York told the AFP news agency.

“SVOM has the potential to unravel many mysteries in the field [gamma-ray bursts, GRBs]”This is consistent with early GRPs, including the detection of the most distant GRPs in the Universe,” Gottlieb added.

The most distant explosions identified to date were created 630 million years after the Big Bang – when the universe was in its infancy.

While orbiting 625 km (388 mi) above Earth, the satellite will transmit its data to observatories. Upon detection of an explosion, the SVOM sends an alert to the team on duty 24 hours a day.

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When the data is analyzed, it could help better understand the composition of space and the dynamics of gas clouds or other galaxies, the researchers say.

The main challenge, however, is that gamma-ray bursts are so short that it puts scientists in a race against time to gather information.

A Long March 2C rocket carrying a satellite called the Space Variable Objects Monitor (SVOM), jointly developed by China and France, lifted off from a base in Jichang in China’s southwest Sichuan province. [Adek Berry/AFP]

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

This level of space cooperation between the West and China is highly unusual, especially since the US banned all cooperation between the US space agency NASA and Beijing in 2011.

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

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

China’s advances in space and lunar exploration are advancing faster than the United States, and as a result it is attracting partners from European and Asian countries.

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

China has been building and launching satellites in collaboration with countries including Brazil, Egypt and Thailand.


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