Kuafu-1: China’s first space-based solar telescope

The Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory (ASO-S) – China’s first space-based solar telescope – was launched recently.

Key facts

  • The Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory (ASO-S) was launched aboard the Long March-2D carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern part of China.
  • It is nicknamed Kuafu-1, after a mythical giant that sought to capture and tame the sun.
  • The solar mission, which is expected to last for 4 years, will enable scientists to capture and study the previously unprecedented images of the Sun during the “solar maximum” (when sun has the highest number of sun spots). The solar maximum is expected to occur around the year 2025.
  • The ASO-S is China’s first full-scale satellite dedicated to researching the Sun. It is the world’s first solar telescope capable of simultaneously monitoring both solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
  • It will study the Sun from an orbit 720 km above the surface of the Earth.
  • The mission is capable of simultaneous observation of the entire Sun’s vector magnetic field, imaging spectroscopy at high energies of solar flares, and studying the formation and evolution of solar flares and coronal mass ejections on the disk and in the inner corona.
  • This will improve the understanding of the physics of solar eruptions and further the forecasting capability of solar weather.
  • The solar satellite will send 500 GB data concerning the Sun’s magnetic field, solar flares and coronal mass ejections each day to ground stations in Sanya, Kashgar and Beijing.
  • During the solar eruptions, the satellite can send pictures to ground stations every second.
  • From the ground stations, the data is transferred in packages to a 2,048-core computer in Purple Mountain Observatory.
  • This mission is similar to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and ESA’s Solar Orbiter.
  • India is planning to launch a similar solar mission in 2023 called Aditya-L1 to research the solar atmosphere.

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