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Nation to launch satellites to predict storms in space
China is expected to launch two small satellites in the next two years to research and predict space environment changes that could threaten spacecraft safety, the China National Space Administration announced yesterday in Beijing.
The space agency said it has kicked off a "double-star programme'' which will put an equator-range satellite and a polar-range satellite into orbit to cruise the geo-space that the world's other space exploration satellites have not covered.
The two satellites, each weighing more than 270 kilograms, will be blasted into space at the end of 2002 and mid-2003, according to Liu Zhenxing, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Liu, who proposed the programme four years ago, said it is important to strengthen research in electromagnetic field and particles activities in the magnetosphere near the Earth.
Drastic magnetospheric environment changes such as magnetospheric storms can cause glitches in the operations of telecommunications and meteorological satellites, resulting in poorer communications and weather services, he said.
Only by getting a whole picture of how magnetospheric storms are triggered can scientists come up with countermeasures to minimize and avoid possible losses, said the senior satellite expert.
The academician said he expected the findings of the satellites will cast light on scientists' understanding of the activities of electromagnetic fields and energetic particles, and improve the country's ability to accurately forecast space environment changes.
All this will help to safeguard human space activities, he said.
The double-star programme is working in co-operation with the European Space Agency, according to Liu Shijun of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.
The two Chinese-made satellites, carrying 19 sets of scientific instruments developed by the two sides, are expected to work together with the four satellites of the European agency's CLUSTER II programme in conducting space exploration, he said.
In another development, China and South Korea yesterday signed an agreement in Taejon to allow the China Great Wall Industry Corp to send a South Korean satellite into space in April 2004, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite 2 (KOMPSAT-2), to be sent on a Chinese-made Long March rocket, will carry scientific instruments to observe natural resources and conduct digital map-making and atmospheric research. It will provide detailed high-resolution pictures from an orbit of 685 kilometres, according to the report.
(China Daily by Zhao Huanxin)
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