The Chinese government just pulled off a major feat that could forever shape the future landscape of space.
China has made a major move, and one that could have tremendous ripple effects throughout the scientific world. The government launched a Long March 4B rocket on Thursday, June 15 carrying what has been described as perhaps the most important astronomy mission for China in years called the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT).
This incredible piece of equipment will search for black holes, pulsars, and many other things that scientists still have much to learn about hidden deep in the outer reaches of the universe. The rocket was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
China had originally hoped to launch HXMT back in 2010, but it was postponed a few times due to financial problems. The project was first proposed all the way back in 1993. The telescope itself weighs about 2.5 metric tons and has a satellite about the size of a car with two deployable solar arrays.
“The satellite aims at creating a high precision hard X-ray sky map and discovering new hard X-ray sources, including possible new types of objects in the Milky Way,” said Prof. ZHANG Shuangnan, lead scientist of HXMT and director of the Key Laboratory of Particle Astrophysics at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP), Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“There are three main payloads onboard HXMT: the high energy X-ray telescope (20-250 keV, 5100 cm2), the medium energy X-ray telescope (5-30 keV, 952 cm2), and the low energy X-ray telescope (1-15 keV, 384 cm2),” explained Prof. LU Fangjun, chief designer of the HXMT payloads.