France, China launch satellite in attempt to explore the universe | Space News | Space

China’s advances in space exploration are outpacing those of the United States and attracting partners from Europe and Asia.

A satellite developed by France and China has blasted off on a hunt for the mightiest explosions in the universe, in a notable example of cooperation between a Western power and the Asian giant.

On Saturday, the 930kg (2,050-pound) satellite carrying four instruments – two French, two Chinese – took off at about 3pm (07:00 GMT) aboard a Chinese Long March 2C rocket from a base in Xichang, in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Developed by engineers from both countries, the Space Variable Objects Monitor (SVOM) will seek out gamma-ray bursts, the light from which has travelled billions of light years to reach Earth.

Gamma-ray bursts generally occur after the explosion of huge stars – those more than 20 times as big as the sun – or the fusion of compact stars.

The extremely bright cosmic beams can give off a blast of energy equivalent to more than that of a billion suns.

Observing them is like “looking back in time, as the light from these objects takes a long time to reach us”, Ore Gottlieb, an astrophysicist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York, told the AFP news agency.

“SVOM has the potential to unravel several mysteries in the field of [gamma-ray…

Source www.aljazeera.com

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