CAS announces third Chinese gravitational waves research project

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-17 1:08:01

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on Tuesday announced another domestic research project on gravitational waves, the third such project China has unveiled in a week as Chinese scientists rush to apply for State funds following the news of a historic discovery made by US researchers.

The Taiji Program, initiated by scientists with the CAS in 2008, has made progress in research on satellite technology and the source of gravitational waves, according to a press release issued by the CAS on Tuesday.

Gravitational wave detection in space has also been included in the CAS' 2050 space plan, the academy said.

The announcement came after two other domestic research projects, Tianqin and Ali, were unveiled on Saturday. Tianqin was initiated by Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, and Ali was initiated by the CAS' Institute of High Energy Physics.

Like the other two projects, the Taiji program is also awaiting governmental approval, Qiao Congfeng, a senior official with the CAS and a member of the Taiji team, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

According to the Taiji team, the project aims to launch three satellites to detect medium- and low-frequency gravitational waves by 2030.

Qiao said the satellites launched by the Taiji program will orbit the sun, whereas the satellites launched by the Tianqi program are set to orbit Earth.

"Detecting medium- and low-frequency waves could greatly improve the accuracy of the positioning function of Beidou satellites," Qiao said.

The third program, Ali - named after the academy's observatory in Ali, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region - will use ground equipment to detect primordial gravitational waves created by the first tremors of the Big Bang.

Tuesday's CAS press release said that although China's technology for detecting gravitational waves still lags behind that of other countries in several fields, China can narrow the gap by enhancing international cooperation.

The Taiji team has sent members to the annual meeting organized by the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) team in Europe and also has taken turns organizing communication meetings with The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany, the CAS statement said.

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