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China, Europe Build Hexahedral Net to Observe Outer Space

Chinese and European scientists joined hands in observing outer space via a hexahedral network of research satellites, which is primarily aimed at depicting space magnetic storms and ensuring manned space exploration.


The leading scientist of the Double Star Program, Liu Zhenxing, said Friday at a China-European Union science and technology forum that his program coordinated well with Cluster II, a four-satellite space observation program sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) that has gathered a huge amount of new data.


In the Double Star Program, one satellite orbits the Earth passing over both poles while the other flies over the equator. One orbiter reaches more than 60,000 kilometers from the Earth, unprecedented for Chinese satellites.


The Cluster mission is currently investigating the small-scale structure of the Earth's plasma environment, such as those involved in the interaction between solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, global magnetotail dynamics, cross-tail currents, and the formation and dynamics of the neutral line and of plasmoids.


The Double Star Program covers the space area close to Earth, which is hard to detect by the four Cluster satellites.


Chinese and European scientists jointly made the 16 research instruments loaded on the two Chinese satellites.


"Both of us benefit from the cooperation in developing research facilities and exploring space," said Liu, who is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).


The CAS Center for Space Science and Application Research and the ESA organized a joint research team, which is led by Liu and another two co-chairs, one Chinese and one European.


The Chinese and European scientists have agreed to share all data collected by the four Cluster satellites and China's double stars.


"We also have full access to scientific data gathered by 30 ground observation stations, which are affiliated to Cluster II," Liu said. "Those data help Chinese space scientists do what they were not able to do in the past."


(Xinhua News Agency May 14, 2005)


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