Tianqin-2 to test key technologies for next-gen gravity satellites
Scientists are currently working on the launch of the Tianqin-2 satellite to test key technologies for space-based gravitational wave detection. These include the main technologies for use in next-generation gravity satellites.
The Tianqin Project, China's independent space-based gravitational wave detection program, attracted much attention during a recent meeting to discuss the frontiers of space science during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, attended by dozens of Chinese experts in space science.
Professor Ye Xianji, from the Tianqin Research Center for Gravitational Physics affiliated with Sun Yat-sen University, noted at the meeting that intersatellite laser interferometry (ILI) -- one of the core technologies to undergo on-obit testing by the Tianqin-2 satellite -- is a key technology for next-generation gravity satellites.
"China is at the same starting line as the U.S. and Germany in accelerating breakthroughs in next-generation gravity satellite technology and competing for the lead in this regard," said Xu Houze, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Xu expects the smooth advancement of the Tianqin-2 satellite program so as to achieve China's independence, safety and leading position in gravity satellite technology.
Gravity satellites are critical to the national economy and people's livelihood, according to Zhong Min, researcher at the Innovation Academy for Precision Measurement Science and Technology, CAS. Zhong added that the experimental data to be provided by Tianqin-2 through ILI testing will be used to help build global gravitational field models with high precision and high spatiotemporal resolution.
This advancement is expected to serve various sectors including geodesy, geophysics and national security, and also help address global challenges such as climate change and disaster prevention and mitigation, Zhong said.
Zhang Lihua, chief designer of the Tianqin-1 satellite, noted that Tianqin-1 completed all its tests with better results than expected. He is counting on Tianqin-2 to make a major technological breakthrough in testing high-precision ILI and thereby innovations in the application of high-precision gravitational field.
Experts from the Tianqin Research Center said that breakthroughs had been achieved in the key technologies of the Tianqin-2 satellite, with both the required technology and research personnel in place.
The Tianqin Project consists of four stages, and aims to deploy three satellites in orbit around 100,000 km from the Earth to detect space-based gravitational waves.
Tianqin-2 is being jointly developed by Sun Yat-sen University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology as well as Aerospace Dongfanghong Satellite Co., Ltd., among others. It is currently in its third phase, with the satellite to test the key technologies of the second stage of the whole Tianqin Project.
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