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HomescienceFrance and China launch a joint satellite to monitor cosmic explosions ...

France and China launch a joint satellite to monitor cosmic explosions Sciences

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The rocket carries a satellite jointly developed by China and France on June 22, 2024 – Image: ADEK BERRY / AFP

China and France on Saturday (22) collaboratively launched a satellite that will provide information about the history of the universe. The SFOM mission, which was planned by engineers from both countries, is an important partnership between Beijing and a Western country in space.

“It is a great success! We have been able to work well with our Chinese colleagues,” Philippe Baptiste, CEO of the National Center for Space Studies, told AFP on Saturday after the launch. This project is the result of a partnership between the French and Chinese space agencies, in which several scientific and technical organizations from both countries also participate.

The satellite, which weighs 930 kilograms and carries four devices (two Chinese and two French), was launched aboard a Chinese rocket from the Xichang Space Base in Sichuan Province, southwest China.

The successful liftoff was recorded at 3pm local time (4am in Brasilia), according to the Chinese space agency CNSA.

The satellite will be responsible for discovering “gamma bursts”, real luminous fossils that should provide more information about the history of the universe.

The rocket carries a satellite jointly developed by China and France on June 22, 2024 – Image: ADEK BERRY / AFP

“Gamma bursts” typically occur after the explosion of massive stars (more than 20 times the mass of the Sun) or the merger of compact stars. These are the most powerful explosions in the universe, with enormously bright radiation, and according to scientists, observing these phenomena allows you to “go back in time.”

As it travels through space, this light also passes through different gases and galaxies, taking their traces with it. This is valuable information for better understanding the history and evolution of the universe.

“We are also interested in gamma-ray bursts themselves, because they are intense cosmic explosions that allow us to better understand the death of some stars,” says Dane. “All this data also makes it possible to test the laws of physics with phenomena that are impossible to reproduce in a laboratory on Earth,” he emphasizes.

Once analyzed, this information can also be used to better understand the composition of space and the dynamics of gas and other galaxies.

The satellite, which was placed in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of 625 kilometers, will send its precious data to observatories on Earth. Once Svom detects an explosion, it will send an alert to the team on duty, 24 hours a day. They will then have less than five minutes to activate a network of telescopes on the ground, which will line up precisely on the axis of the explosion's source, for more in-depth observations.

France and China jointly launched CFOSAT in 2018, an oceanographic satellite mainly used for marine meteorology. This Sino-Western space cooperation is not very frequent. Especially since Washington banned NASA from any cooperation with Beijing in space in 2011.

The rocket carries a satellite jointly developed by China and France on June 22, 2024 – Image: ADEK BERRY / AFP

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