China and France send a satellite into space to uncover the secrets of gamma ray bursts

China and France send a satellite into space to uncover the secrets of gamma ray bursts

In a few days (June 22), a French-Chinese observation satellite will lift off from the Chinese launch base in Xichang. Called SVOM (Space-Based Multi-Scale Astronomical Variable Object Observation), this spacecraft's mission is to unlock the secrets of gamma-ray bursts, these cosmic phenomena that are among the most active in the universe.

A window into the early universe

Violent gamma ray bursts Star explosions Which briefly illuminates space from the edges of the universe. Some of these ultra-bright flashes date back less than a billion years after the Earth appeared the great explosionProviding an invaluable window into the earliest moments of our universe.

By analyzing these catastrophic events, SVOM should allow scientists to uncover their secrets First starsBut also to better understand the formation of the universe and its evolution over time. The observations in particular should shed new light on gas dynamics in distant galaxies.

An arsenal of advanced tools

To carry out this ambitious exploration mission, a satellite weighing 930 kg will have to be carried out Four tools Ultra efficient.

Two of them, telescopes Lightning And Mix Twas developed by CEA And other French partners. It will make it possible to detect and monitor gamma-ray bursts in different energy ranges, from X-rays to gamma rays.

There are two other Chinese instruments, the spectrometer Complaints handling mechanism And the telescope VTThis will complete Effective wing By examining high-energy gamma radiation and visible light emitted after explosions.

Race against time

One of the main challenges of this task lies in…Extreme brevity Gamma ray bursts, which sometimes last only a few milliseconds. To avoid missing out on these ephemeral phenomena, SVOM will have to show exceptional responsiveness thanks to fully automated systems.

Once an explosion is detected by the ECLAIRs, the satellite will reorient itself within a few minutes to allow its other instruments to monitor the event. A super-sophisticated program will spin this celestial dance in record time.

China-France long-term cooperation

The SVOM task is the result of Long-term cooperation between French space agencies (CNES) and Chinese (CNSA). This partnership, which began in 2014, combined the forces of the two countries in designing and developing the satellite.

Thus France provided the two main telescopes ECLAIRs and MXT, while China took charge of the satellite platform and other instruments on board. It's a missile Long March 2C Which will propel SVOM into its low Earth orbit, at an altitude of 625 km, with an initial lifespan of 3 years.

Despite significant technical challenges, this mission promises to make major scientific advances in our understanding of the early universe. It should thus open a new window on the first moments of our universe.

Being a bit of a geek and passionate about new technologies, I bring you high-tech news of the moment but not only that… I am very interested in current affairs and love to analyze them. So I do everything I can to make it understandable to everyone. I believe journalism should go beyond the facts, and add emotion and thought to truly engage and enlighten.

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