China successfully launches Huiyan Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope

Image courtesy of CNSA.

China had successfully launched its Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) “Huiyan” (“Insight”) with the Long March 4-B Carrier Rocket at 1500 on June 15 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The engineering of this satellite was done by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), which is also tasked with development of China’s large-scale scientific satellites, and to fill the gaps in China’s Space X-Ray Detection Satellites as well as high-energy astrophysics in China.

The deputy chiefs, engineers, and secretary of SASTIND and China National Space Administration (CNSA) attended the launch.

“Huiyan” is a continued collaboration between China and Europe, following the “Wukong” Dark Matter Participle Explorer (DAMPE) and “Mozi”, the Quantum Communication satellite.

The satellite has a design life of 4 years, with a total mass of about 2,500 kg. Its payloads consist of high energy, medium energy and low energy X-ray telescopes, and a space environment monitor (SEM). HXMT is equipped to observe X-rays in the range of 1-250 keV and Gamma-rays in the range of 200 KeV to 3 MeV. The satellite adopts direct demodulation (DD) method, and scans with wide band, high sensitivity, high resolution spatial X-ray imaging, with complex thermal control, and with ground monitoring, data protection and energy security for long-term work load.

The main aim of operation of “Huiyan” lies in sky survey, fixed point observation and small field scanning.

The satellite has four major objectives:

  • First, the galactic plane will be scanned to find new transient sources of X-rays and Gamma rays.
  • Second, the observation and analysis of the optical and spectral information from high-energy objects such as black holes and neutron stars to understand the dynamics and radiation in their gravitational field.
  • Third, studying the dynamics and emission derived from gamma ray bursts (GRBs) and other electromagnetic events from hard x-ray/soft gamma ray energy field to study the formation of the black hole and neutrons.
  • Fourth, to explore the usage of X-ray pulsars for spacecraft autonomous navigation technology and carrying out in-orbit experiments.

The HXMT satellite project was jointly approved in March 2011 by SASTIND and Ministry of Finance of People’s Republic of China and used by Chinese Academy of Sciences as a special pilot project.

Both the satellite and the launcher were researched and developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST); the terrestrial test equipment was handled by Xi’an Satellite Measurement and Control Center, Under Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS); National Space Science Center (NSCC), The Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI) and The Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) are responsible for handling terrestrial application system and satellite data reception, processing, distribution and application. This mission is the 248th launch of the Long March launcher series.

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