China Focus: Queqiao-2 spearheads diverse scientific exploration for future lunar missions-Xinhua

China Focus: Queqiao-2 spearheads diverse scientific exploration for future lunar missions

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-07-09 20:58:30

BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The Queqiao-2 relay satellite, with three scientific payloads installed, will conduct multiple scientific exploration missions in orbit, following its earlier contribution to the Chang'e-6 mission.

Queqiao-2, or Magpie Bridge 2, was launched by a Long March-8 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in south China's Hainan Province on March 20 this year, with the task of providing Earth-moon communications services.

Its three payloads consist of an extreme ultraviolet camera, a two-dimensional-coded energetic neutral atom-imager and an Earth-moon very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) experiment system, according to the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A scientific payload manager is also installed, which acts as the central control hub for the instruments, and is responsible for their unified control and data reception management, the center said.

As a crucial part of the future Chang'e-7 mission, these payloads will carry out multiple Earth observation and astrometry experiments, with an aim to advance research in space Earth science, space astronomy and deep space exploration technology, thereby creating more original scientific achievements.

According to the center, the extreme ultraviolet camera can simultaneously observe in the 30.4 nm and 83.4 nm spectral bands, capturing a series of unique "photos" of space around Earth.

Scientists can use these "photos" to study how solar activity affects Earth's space environment, understand how Earth's magnetic field protects humans from cosmic rays and the solar wind, and better predict solar activity events to avoid negative impacts on communication systems and spacecraft safety.

The two-dimensional-coded energetic neutral atom-imager, independently developed by China, can image and observe Earth's magnetosphere, obtaining high temporal and spatial resolution data of Earth's magnetotail, the center said.

It can provide observational data support for studying Earth's magnetic storm processes, substorm injection triggering mechanisms and magnetotail energy conversion mechanisms, thus enhancing the safety of the country's space station and near-Earth satellites during their operations.

The Earth-moon VLBI experiment system uses the antenna of Queqiao-2 to extend the ground-based VLBI network into the Earth-moon space, achieving a baseline length ranging from 3,000 meters to 380,000 kilometers, according to the center.

It will enable scientific exploration in astrophysics and astrometry of the Earth-moon baseline, as well as precise orbit measurements for deep space probes. Its unique perspective will unveil the physical properties and evolutionary processes of various celestial bodies and phenomena.