China launches first solar observation satellite – Know all details

The 550-kg Xihe satellite will monitor the Sun for three years. Know more details about China’s first solar observation satellite.

Created On: Oct 16, 2021 21:27 IST
Solar storm, Source: Reuters
Solar storm, Source: Reuters

China on October 14, 2021, launched its first solar observation satellite by a Long March 2D rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in northern Shanxi province into a 571-km altitude orbit. The 550-kg Xihe satellite will monitor the Sun for three years. Until now, China has had a solar monitoring network on the ground however it did not access to the optical data outside the atmosphere. The Xihe satellite, the first solar observation satellite by China will aid the country to fill that gap.

About China’s first solar observation satellite

The Xihe satellite is China’s first solar observation satellite. It is equipped with an imaging spectrometer known as the Chinese H-alpha Solar Explorer (CHASE) that will enable observation of the deep-red H-Alpha line of the solar spectrum thereby providing data for scientists to study solar flares or eruptions on the surface of the Sun.

The Xihe satellite has been developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The model of the satellite was put up for a showcase at the Zhuhai Air Show in September 2021.

Xihe Satellite: Naming, Weight, Lifespan, Orbit

The satellite has been named after a Chinese mythological figure Xihe, the Mother Goddess of the Gods of the Sun. The Xihe satellite weighing 550-kg (110 lbs) has been designed for a lifespan of three years. It will observe the Sun until the solar maximum in 2025. It will be in a Sun-synchronous orbit around the Earth.

The Xihe satellite will record the changes in speed and atmospheric temperature during solar eruptions, provide data for studying the dynamics and physical mechanism of eruptions. Ulta-stability and ultra-high accuracy are some of the key salient features of the Xihe satellite.

How will it benefit China’s space solar exploration?

The first solar observation satellite Xihe satellite by China is expected to increase the international influence of China in the area of solar physics. The satellite will enable China to conduct space solar exploration which will benefit China’s basic science research, accelerate the progress of international solar physics research, and boost the development of related hi-tech industries.

China has been investing heavily in space exploration. It is regarded as the strong challenger in the space race. It has pushed several major programmes for outer space including the Moon and Mars. China’s Moon craft Chang’e 5 is now expected to reach the L5 Lagrange point which is a gravity balance spot between the Sun and Earth.


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