China will launch its first comprehensive solar probe, the Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory, in October, opening a new chapter in the country's exploration of the sun, according to the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
From Monday to July 24, the research institute is gathering suggestions from the public for names to give the milestone instrument, which weighs 888 kilograms and will operate in a synchronous orbit of the sun at around 720 kilometers.
The satellite is equipped with three payloads, namely the All-Solar Vector Magnetic Imager, the Lyman Alpha Solar Telescope and the Solar Hard X-ray Imager. It is the culmination of over five years of work by Chinese scientists and engineers and is set to operate for more than four years.
Its goal is to study solar flares and coronal mass ejections, two of the most violent phenomena on the sun, as well as examining the star's magnetic field. These undertakings will yield valuable insights on severe space weather critical for the safe operation of instruments in orbit and electronic infrastructure on the ground.
Although the sun is about 150 million kilometers from Earth, its activities can generate high-energy particles that fly across space, many of which can reach Earth's atmosphere and affect a variety of technological systems.
In October 2003, the planet saw some of the most powerful solar storms in history that disrupted aircraft, research satellites and global positioning systems, later dubbed the Halloween Storms of 2003. (chinadaily.com.cn)
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