China is working on a plan to locate the first Earth-like planet in space.
Now it appears the nation also has hopes of discovering a planet like our own Earth in distant solar systems, according to a new one Nature’s report.
The mission, aptly named Earth 2.0, is funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Scientists backed by the Chinese government will scan space for exoplanets orbiting a star like our Sun in the “habitable zone.”
However, this “Earth 2.0” would also need to have the right conditions to support liquid water and possibly life.
Sometime in May, astronomers are expected to release details about the mission, which is currently finalizing its early designs.
Once the drafts are ready, they will have to be reviewed by a panel of experts in June.
At about this point, the project team will receive funding to begin construction of the satellite they will use for the mission.
Consisting of seven telescopes, this powerful satellite will spend four years searching distant solar systems.
Six of the telescopes will focus heavily on the Cygnus Lyra constellations — the same part of space that Nasa’s Kepler telescope observed for nearly a decade before it was retired in 2018.
“The Kepler field is a low-hanging fruit because we have very good data from there,” Jian Ge, the astronomer leading the Earth 2.0 mission at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Nature.
“Our satellite can be 10 to 15 times more powerful than NASA’s Kepler telescope in its capacity to survey the sky,” Ge noted.
The Chinese telescopes use the time-tested method of monitoring a star’s brightness—when a large object passes in front of a star, it dims.
These changes in brightness may indicate that an exoplanet may be present.
The team, which consists of around 300 scientists and engineers, hopes to launch the spacecraft before the end of 2026.
Besides this instrument, China is also developing another powerful space telescope called the Xuntian or Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST).
CSST is expected to have a 6.6-foot diameter primary mirror and a field of view 300 times larger than NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Such a wide field of view would allow the telescope to observe up to 40 percent of the sky over ten years.
This story originally appeared on the sun and is reproduced here with permission.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/inside-chinas-plan-to-find-earth-2-0-with-this-planet-hunting-probe/ In China’s plan to find “Earth 2.0” with this planet-hunting probe