Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, October 9th. Topic: “Kufu-1” begins the journey of solar exploration – analysis of my country’s comprehensive special satellite for solar exploration
Xinhua News Agency reporters Wang Jueping, Zhang Quan and Zhang Jiansong
my country’s comprehensive solar exploration satellite “Kuafu-1”, the Advanced Space-Based Solar Observatory (ASO-S), was launched on October 9 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to start the exploration of the sun.
What skills does this “explorer” have? What message will it bring back to humanity? A reporter from Xinhua News Agency approached the chief scientist and development team of the satellite to reveal the five-fold “identity” of “Kwafu-1”.
Schematic diagram of “Kwafu No. 1”. (Photo courtesy of the satellite development team)
Space “warning officer”
“The core scientific goal of ‘Kwafu-1’ is ‘one magnetic and two storms’, that is, the sun’s magnetic field, as well as the two most violent explosion phenomena on the sun – solar flares and coronal mass ejections.” “Kuafu-1” satellite Gan Weiqun, chief scientist and researcher of the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that he will use the opportunity of the 25th peak year of solar activity (expected to be around 2024 to 2026) to observe and study the formation, interaction and interconnection of “one magnetic and two storms”. .
Gan Weiqun introduced that such a design is not only for a more in-depth study of the core physical phenomena of the sun, but also for being a good “early warning officer” for human beings. Relying on the detection of multiple bands, “Kufu-1” can continuously observe and track the entire process of the solar eruption, and provide support for space disaster weather forecasts that affect high-tech activities such as human spaceflight and navigation.
On October 9, 2022, my country successfully launched the Kuafu-1 satellite. Xinhua News Agency (Photo by Wang Jiangbo)
Magnetic field “scouts”
Magnetic fields are known as “first observations” in solar physics, and most solar activity is directly governed by the sun’s magnetic field.
If you put a compass on the sun, a very strange phenomenon will occur: in different areas, the compass points differently; even in the same area, the compass points at different times. This is because the sun’s magnetic field is far more complex than the Earth’s.
“During the eruption of the sun, the all-solar vector magnetometer carried on the ‘Kwafu-1’ can perform high-precision imaging of the all-solar magnetic field every 18 minutes, which helps to record the changes of the sun’s magnetic field completely and accurately. , and then detect and decipher a series of mysteries of solar energy release.” said Zhang Haiying, chief designer of the full-solar vector magnetometer payload.
Observe “The Generalist”
When we imagine the sun, a dazzling yellow eye always comes to mind. In fact, the “face” of the sun is much richer, emitting all wavelengths of light. In addition to visible light that can be seen by the human eye, there are gamma rays, X-rays, and ultraviolet rays with shorter wavelengths, as well as infrared and radio waves with longer wavelengths.
To see the “true face” of the sun, it is necessary to use telescopes with different wavelengths. “Kwafu-1” is an all-rounder for observing the sun. It is equipped with the Lyman Alpha Solar Telescope and the Solar Hard X-ray Imager, which can observe the sun from ultraviolet, visible light and X-ray bands. According to reports, the Solar Hard X-ray Imager is like a precise “compound eye”, which can accurately capture X-ray information from the sun; the Lyman Alpha Solar Telescope can simultaneously observe the entire heliosphere and the Lyman Alpha at the corona within 2.5 solar radii. Light.
The metallic tungsten grating of the Solar Hard X-ray Imager.Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Lin Kai
As seen from Earth, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, with only about half of its “face-out” time. The “Kufu-1” flying on a sun-synchronous morning and evening orbit at an altitude of about 720 kilometers is in working condition for more than 96% of the year, and it is a real “workaholic”.
Under normal circumstances, the on-board payload is imaged every few seconds to several minutes. During the solar eruption period, it can be imaged once in 1 second, and the entire process of solar activity is recorded in detail. Gan Weiqun introduced that “Kwafu-1” can observe the sun 24 hours a day for most of the year. Only from May to August each year, there are brief periods of time each day into Earth’s shadow, with the longest “resting” day being no more than 18 minutes.
“Kuafu No. 1” data analysis center.Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Lin Kai
Data volume “master”
“Kuafu-1” has a total weight of about 859 kilograms and is “medium” in size among solar exploration satellites, but it is a “big eater” of data throughput. “Every day, it will accumulate and transmit back about 500GB of data, which is equivalent to sending tens of thousands of ‘high-definition big pictures’ of the sun to the earth.” Huang Yu, deputy chief engineer of the satellite science application system, said that if processing and processing are included, the daily output is The data will be “stuffed” into the hard drive of a home computer, which also belongs to the “first echelon” of the world‘s solar exploration satellites.
After these data are received and restored, they will be packaged and sent to the Satellite Data Analysis Center at the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The data accumulated by satellites in orbit in the next four years will be stored here, and will be “translated” by researchers into images and materials for scientific research.