by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Jan 22, 2016
Scientists have begun calibrating China's first dark matter probe in order to produce more accurate data, more than a month after the detector started to search for signals of the invisible material.
The Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite, dubbed "Wukong" after the Monkey King character from the Chinese "Journey to the West" legend, was launched on Dec. 17, 2015, on a Long March 2-D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Like the Monkey King who can see through objects with his sharp eyes, the satellite has the most sensitive and accurate detectors especially designed for dark matter. These started working a week after the satellite entered a sun-synchronous orbit.
Chang Jin, DAMPE chief scientist and vice director of the Purple Mountain Observatory, said Wukong has already collected more than 100 million high energy particles, including protons, alpha and cosmic-ray particles and nuclides. Scientists will look for high-energy electrons and gamma rays among them, which could be residue of dark matter's annihilation or decay.
"Now the payload looks perfect, but it's not enough. If the calibration goes well, the signs we seek will pop out from the data," said Chang.
The payload has four major parts - a plastic scintillator array detector, a silicon array detector, a BGO calorimeter, and a neutron detector - together comprising about 76,000 minor detectors. DAMPE scientific application chief designer Wu Jian said the payload was designed with very high accuracy, but colliding with cosmic rays will change the detectors' performance, so they need constant calibration.
Wukong is sending back about 20 GB of data a day. DAMPE advanced data process sub-system designer Zang Jingjing said all the data will be analyzed by a special computer equipped with 128 10-cored CPUs.
"After calibration, the detectors will collect more useful data and screen out signal noises. That will save us a lot of time," said Zang.
Dark matter, which does not emit or reflect electromagnetic radiation that can be observed directly, is one of the huge mysteries of modern science. Exploration of dark matter could give scientists a clearer understanding of the past and future of galaxies and the universe, and would revolutionize the fields of physics and space science.
Wukong is designed to undertake a three-year mission, but scientists hope it can last five years. It will scan space nonstop in all directions in the first two years and then focus on areas where dark matter is most likely to be observed. Initial findings will be published as early as the second half of this year.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
China National Space Administration
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|