China expects to launch its first large space telescope and begin scientific research by around 2024.
The telescope, called Xuntian, the China Space Station Telescope (CSST), will conduct extensive space exploration, according to the message of the Chinese state media CGTN.
Unlike NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which just showed its first scientific images, Xuntian will be close enough to Earth for service. James Webb is about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth at Lagrange Point 2, while the CSST will orbit near China’s space station, which means it will be relatively easy to maintain. The mission lifetime is expected to be approximately 10 years, which may also be extended.
Xuntian (Chinese for “Heavenly Sentinel”) will have a two-meter aperture along with advanced detectors. It will also be the size of a bus and weigh more than 10 tons, CGTN reported. The Changchun Institute of Optics, Precision Mechanics and Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is reportedly currently developing the Xuntian prototype.
The China Space Telescope will consist of five observation instruments, including the Xuntian module, the terahertz Mmodule, the multi-channel imager, the integral field spectrograph, and the extrasolar planetary imaging coronagraph.
Most of the observations will be made by the Xuntian module, which is a camera with a wide field of view. According to CGTN, the telescope module’s 2.5-billion-pixel camera will have the same resolution as Hubble, but have a field of view 300 times larger. In about 10 years of operation, it will be able to survey about 40 percent of the sky.
The space telescope will be launched after the completion of the construction of the Chinese space station. It will fly separately and at a distance from the orbital station, but in the same orbit and will be able to dock with it.