China’s first dark matter satellite named DAMPE (Dark Matter Particle Explorer) that was launched on 17 December from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province has started sending data to the ground stations. Chinese space agency confirmed that it has received first data sent by dark matter probe.
The DAMPE satellite is also nicknamed as “Wukong” and the peculiar name has been taken from the Chinese classical fiction “Journey to the West” after the Monkey King with penetrating eyes.
The 1.9- tonne desk-sized satellite will be placed in the sun-synchronous orbit at a height of 500 km where it will scan for dark matter for first two years. According to officials, more than 100 scientists will analyse the data sent back by the DAMPE satellite and first findings will be published in the second half of next year. In addition, the satellite will be in space for at least five years and will be used for several other missions.
“The main scientific objective of DAMPE is to measure electrons and photons with much higher energy resolution and energy reach than achievable with existing space experiments in order to identify possible dark matter signatures,” scientists wrote in a description of the mission on the University of Geneva’s website. “It has also great potential in advancing the understanding of the origin and propagation mechanism of high energy cosmic rays, as well as in new discoveries in high energy gamma astronomy.”
What is Dark Matter?
Dark matter is a hypothetical kind of matter that cannot be seen with telescopes but accounts for most of the matter in the universe (nearly 85 percent). The existence and properties of dark matter are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, on radiation, and on the large-scale structure of the universe.
Although scientists haven’t seen dark matter yet, but several experiments have suggested that dark matter is omnipresent and accounts for more than 85 percent of our Universe’s mass. The new venture by China will unravel the mystery of Dark Matter.
First published on: Dec 29, 2015, 03:42 PM