The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has selected candidates for its next series of space missions, which are expected to be launched between 2026 and 2030.
Of the 13 proposed missions, it is expected that between five and seven will be chosen for launch, SpaceNews reported.
The new missions will be part of the third project of the CAS Strategic Priorities Program (SPP III), also known as the New Horizons Program (the program is unrelated to NASA’s New Horizons assignment.). A description of each of the 13 candidates was published in a newspaper in the Chinese Journal of Space Science on June 28, 2022.
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Three of the proposed missions will conduct research in astrophysics and astronomy:
- Improved X-ray synchronization and polarimetry, or Mission eXTPaims to “study the state of matter under extreme conditions of density, gravity and magnetism” and to search for sources of gravitational waves and neutrinos.
- The discovery of the sky at the longest wavelength (DSL) would put a small constellation of satellites into lunar orbit, where they could be shielded from terrestrial interference and study undiscovered areas of the electromagnetic spectrum that could reveal signals from the earliest ages of the cosmos.
- The Dark Matter Particle Explorer-2 (DAMPE-2) would follow on from the DAMPE mission launched in 2015 and search for evidence of dark matter.
Four of CAS’s 13 potential missions are heliophysics efforts:
- Chinese Explorer of the Heliospheric Interstellar Medium (CHIME).
- The Sun Ring (SOR) The mission proposes to use a trio of spacecraft orbiting one astronomical unit (AU) – the same distance Earth orbits the sun – to collect data on the sun and the interior heliosphere.
- The Polar Orbit Solar Observatory (SPO) would study the sun’s poles in a high-inclination orbit.
- The Obscure Solar Eclipse Observatory (ESEO) is designed to orbit at Earth-Sun Lagrange point 2to study the interior of the sun crown. (NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope also orbits Earth-Sun L2.)
Four of the potential missions aim to study Earth and other members of our solar system:
- The return of E-type asteroid samples (ASR) would explore the asteroid 1989 ML and send samples back to Earth.
- The Venus Volcano Imaging and Climate Explorer (VOICE) mission aims to study the geological and atmospheric processes occurring on Venus.
- The Climate and Atmospheric Components Exploration Satellites in Low Earth Orbit (CACES) propose to collect a multitude of data on the Earth’s climate and atmosphere.
- The Ocean Surface Currents Multiscale Observing Mission (OSCOM) would use satellite-based Doppler radar to study oceanographic dynamics and energetics.
Finally, two missions would search the cosmos for habitable exoplanets:
- The survey of nearby habitable exoplanets (CHEES) would like to use astrometric relative micro-arcsecond techniques to study 100 sun-like stars within 33 light-years of Earth.
- The Earth 2.0 (ET) The mission would specifically search for Earth-sized exoplanets that have similar orbits around Sun-like stars using a seven-telescope Earth-Sun L2 orbiting instrument.
Each of the 13 missions proposed for the New Horizons program will be evaluated by a CAS committee on criteria such as budgetary requirements, level of technological readiness and the speed with which the required technologies could be manufactured before China’s 15th five-year plan, which begins. in 2026. The New Horizons program also includes funding for research projects that would support future science missions.