The “best” Hubble telescope. The Chinese will launch it in 2023

It is an ambitious and cosmic project.

China’s first flagship telescope will be launched into space in 2023. The construction is expected to provide mankind with new insights into distant galaxies, dark matter, and past and future changes in the universe.

The Chinese have boasted that their equipment will significantly exceed the capabilities of the Hubble telescope. And it’s good. Because a worn-out Hubble could really use some help.

Xuntian – what can he do?

China’s research space telescope, also known as Xuntian (which loosely translates to “studying the sky”), will serve as an optical observatory to study specific parts of the cosmos. Xuntian will also be in charge of mapping the sky.

The entire telescope will be similar in size to an average bus – according to the Chinese, its length should correspond to a three-story building. The aperture of the telescope will be two meters, which is slightly smaller than that of the Hubble telescope. The American telescope will lose to Xuntian in terms of field of view – in the Chinese it will be 350 times larger.

The Chinese research space telescope, under construction, has an anastigmatic structure with three mirrors, which should finally allow excellent image quality in a wide field of view. At least that’s what Chinese scientists are saying at the moment.

Xuntian’s eyes will be five instruments – including the main surveillance camera. The remaining four instruments are structures designed to observe single objects or small areas. The Chinese want to use them to quickly “catch” images of asteroids, comets and galaxies. Xuntian will also be able to take a closer look at exoplanets.

Read also : China: We will send people to Mars and build a base there

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picture from NASA

Flight at the height of the Chinese space station

The observation ceiling of the Chinese space telescope will be the same as that of the Chinese space station. The structure will fly in the same orbit, but will be at a great distance from the station. By the time Xuntian launches, the Chinese will almost certainly have finished building their astronaut modules – these should be fully operational by the end of 2022.

Interestingly, Chinese scientists initially wanted Xuntian to be hooked directly to the Tiangong space station, but such a decision could raise a lot of issues. These include, but are not limited to, vibration, pollution, and visual field obstruction generated by the space station itself. The ambitious project assumes that flying the telescope in the same orbit as the space station will ensure that the two structures will not interfere with each other during daily operations.

Finally, the Chinese want to be able to moor the Xuntian telescope to their space station for maintenance, refueling or calibration operations. This idea is impressive.

Read also : The Chinese want to dominate the cosmos. How are they going to do it?

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photo: Alejandro Luengo – Unsplash.com

Competition is good

Will Xuntian be better than Hubble? It sure is – in many ways. We must not forget that American equipment has been circulating on our planet for decades and is simply… technologically outdated.

The Chinese have a huge appetite for their space activities. Not just in terms of the telescopes, but also the operations themselves that use astronauts. If all goes as planned, China’s research telescope could put China’s optical astronomy research at the forefront of the world. It is also a chance for Chinese scientists to develop faster and more specifically.

We can expect the Chinese – like NASA – to share photos sent to Earth by Xuntian. Officially, the telescope itself is due to begin operations as early as 2024 and its lifespan has been set at around 10 years. It is much shorter than Hubble and I wonder if the equipment itself will be able to match it with its achievements.

Xuntian will be responsible for 40% of the photos. sky and observe more than a billion galaxies. We have to wait patiently for what this telescope can finally find in space.

Source: IE / photo: CNSA

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