China’s space programme plans to launch first mission to the sun next year

According to the Xinhua news agency, the probe, code named the Advanced Space based Solar Observatory (ASO-S) is scheduled for lift off in the first half of 2022. Orbiting 720km (447 miles) above the Earth it will perform 24-hour continuous observation” for at least four years.

Gan Weiqun, the mission’s chief scientist said, the probe would carry a magnetic detector, a solar telescope and an X-ray imager to track the sun’s magnetic fields and stormy activities, which were the key to the space weather forecast.

According to the report, more than 70 solar exploration satellites have been launched globally since the 1960s, and the mission is expected to plug China’s gap in the field.

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections are the most two violent eruptions that scientists believe originate from the sun’s magnetic field.

Researchers have estimated that solar activities will start a new 11-year cycle this year and peak in 2024 and 2025, with the Chinese mission making detailed records of this activity.

China’s solar mission was first proposed in 2011 and officially approved by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2017.

The Global Times newspaper reported last week that tests of the prototype of the spacecraft, including environmental and heat experiments, were expected to finish by the end of January.

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