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Thread: China's “Interstellar Express”

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Klang, Malaysia

    China's “Interstellar Express”

    China is planning a space mission like the USA's Voyager missions.

    China is developing a mission to send a pair of spacecraft to study the far reaches of the solar system and reach interstellar space by mid-century.

    The project aims to send separate spacecraft to the nose and tail of the heliosphere, a region of space dominated by solar wind created by our Sun, to study distinct areas of this bubble and how it interacts with the interstellar medium.

    Wu Weiren, a senior figure in China’s lunar exploration project, told official industry newspaper China Space News Friday that scientists are working on an implementation plan for the mission.

    Wu says the mission aims to reach 100 astronomical units—one AU is equivalent to one Sun-Earth distance, or 150 million kilometers—from Earth by 2049, when the People’s Republic of China celebrates the centenary of its founding.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Zong Qiugang, the director of the Institute of Space Physics and Applied Technology at Peking University in China, said the mission “will allow us to discover, explore, and understand fundamental astrophysical processes in the largest plasma laboratory—the heliosphere.”

    possibility for incidental flybys of post-Neptunian objects has been discussed.


    The mission is currently named IHP, which stands for Interstellar Heliosphere Probe.

    The first spacecraft, IHP-1, would launch towards the head of the heliosphere in 2024. A second probe, IHP-2, would go in the opposite direction to explore the tail. The heliosphere is hypothesized to resemble a comet’s tail, but whether or not the tail “closes” behind the Sun is an open question. The Voyagers exited the heliosphere on the head side, and the tail has never been explored.
    The IHP spacecraft will carry magnetometers, energetic neutral atom and particle payloads, dust and plasma detectors, and optical cameras. Phenomena of particular interest to the mission include Anomalous Cosmic Rays. These are slower versions of galactic cosmic rays from the local interstellar medium that become ionized once inside the heliosphere. The mechanism behind this process is not understood, and studying the ACRs could provide insights into the heliosphere and the nature of interstellar material itself.

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