China announces new flagship space telescope

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(ORDO NEWS) — Distant galaxies, dark matter, dark energy, and the origin and evolution of the universe – this is not a complete list of the scientific goals of the new Chinese space telescope, the project of which was recently officially announced.

If all goes according to schedule, the China Space Station Telescope (CSST) will launch aboard the Long March 5B rocket towards the end of 2023. Once in the target orbit, the CSST observatory will begin scientific operations in 2024.

China has long wanted to join the “great observatory club” of which NASA‘s Hubble, Compton, Chandra and Spitzer space observatories are members. The CSST telescope will survey the sky and observe more than 1 billion galaxies.

Onboard scientific instruments will make it possible to make accurate measurements of the shape, coordinates and brightness of galaxies. The telescope will be used to collect information about exoplanets, star-forming regions and other distant objects.

The CSST observatory will be as tall as a three-story building and as wide as a passenger bus. It will have a 2-meter aperture and a set of three mirrors in an off-axis configuration.

The observatory will be equipped with a state-of-the-art sky survey camera, a multichannel imaging device, an integrated field spectrograph, a coronagraph for observing cold planets, and a terahertz receiver.

The telescope can scan the sky using 30 81-megapixel detectors and will be capable of operating in the near infrared, optical and near ultraviolet ranges.

Li Ran, a scientist on the CSST project team, noted that the field of view of this space telescope will be 300 times larger than the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope. As Lee explained with an example, Hubble can see a single sheep, but the CSST can see a herd of thousands of sheep, and at the same resolution.”

After launch, the CSST observatory will be placed in the same orbit as China’s Tiangong space station to facilitate possible repairs.

The CSST observatory is currently in the final stages of construction. It has been planned and developed since 2010.


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