China launches space observatory to unravel secrets of the Sun

China launched this Sunday into space a solar exploration satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in the northwest of the country, with the aim of promote the scientific effort of the country to unravel the secrets of the Sun.

The Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory (ASO-S), nicknamed Kuafu-1 in Chinese, it was launched aboard a Long March-2D rocket and successfully entered its planned orbit.

After four to six months of testing, the 859-kilogram satellite will begin normal operation 720 kilometers from Earth to study the causality between the solar magnetic field and two important eruptive phenomena: the solar flares and the coronal mass ejectionsproviding the supporting data for space weather forecasting.


The solar observatory, named after Kuafu, a giant in Chinese mythology who tirelessly chased the sun, will extend its working hours to more than 96 percent of the year.

OneSpace observatory that is operating in a Sun-synchronous orbit is not hampered by Earth’s rotationswhile a ground-based telescope can see the sun only during the day.

“ASO-S is capable of probing the Sun 24 hours a day for most of the year”highlighted Gan Weiqun, the principal satellite scientist of the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). “Its longest daily wait time is no more than 18 minutes when it runs briefly through Earth’s shadow each day from May to August.”

The solar probe, with a projected life of no less than four years, is designed to accumulate and transmit about 500 gigabytes of data in a daywhich is equivalent to tens of thousands of high-quality images.

“Onboard detectors take pictures every few seconds or minutes, and during solar flares, they can quickly increase their shutter speed to just one second, in order to capture solar activities in more detail,” he added. Huang YuAssociate Lead Designer of the ASO-S Science Application System.

During their operation in orbit, three ground stations in the widely separated cities of Sanya, Kashgar and Beijing will receive data from space, before sending it in packets over the next four years to a powerful 2,048-core computer mounted on the PMO. for its decoding.