China to launch solar probe
Science & Technology
22nd Jul, 2022
China will launch, in October, its first solar probe, which aims to study the relationships between the solar magnetic field, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
- The phase 1 test will soon be followed by phase 2 in 2030, which will be launched into geostationary orbit and will require precise energy transfer over a distance of 35,800 kilometers to Earth.
- The second mission could produce up to one megawatt of power. It will have much larger transmission arrays and medium-power laser power transmission and will need to be assembled in orbit.
- Phases 3 and 4, scheduled for 2035 and 2050, respectively, call for significant increases in energy generation and transmission (10 MW and 2 gigawatts), orbital assembly capabilities, beam steering accuracy, and transmission architecture.
- The four-phase project could help China achieve its energy security and carbon neutrality goals. The updated strategy is apparently in response to domestic and international development trends as well as technology advancements.
- The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun.
- The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system.
- Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth.
- NASA hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.
Other Missions to the Sun
- NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’s aim is to trace how energy and heat move through the Sun’s corona and to study the source of the solar wind’s acceleration.
- It is part of NASA’s ‘Living With a Star’ programme that explores different aspects of the Sun-Earth system.
- The earlier Helios 2 solar probe, a joint venture between NASA and space agency of erstwhile West Germany, went within 43 million km of the Sun’s surface in 1976.
- The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is preparing for its first scientific expedition to study the Sun, Aditya-L1.