18:05 GMT18 January 2021
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    China revealed plans to build space telescope to rival NASA’s Hubble which will have a field of view 300 times larger than its US counterpart. The telescope will dock with China's Tiangong-3 modular space station.

    During the Fifth Annual Conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a scientific report on the country's space exploration program was presented by Gu Idun, a technical adviser in the field of manned space flight.

    The technical adviser explained that together with the creation of a Chinese space station, China plans to launch a separate multi-functional optical device. The new telescope, which has not been named yet, will have the ability to dock with China's modular space station, the Tiangong, news website China Daily reported.

    Diagram of Tiangong-1 (left) docked to a Shenzhou spacecraft (right).
    © Wikipedia / Craigboy
    Diagram of Tiangong-1 (left) docked to a Shenzhou spacecraft (right).

    The ability to dock would mean it will not face the same problems as the Hubble space telescope which requires a shuttle mission to reach it any time it needs repair or maintenance.

    The functions of this device will be quite similar to that of the US space telescope. However, the field of view of the Chinese optical device will be 300 times larger than the field of view of its American counterpart.

    It is expected to capture 40 per cent of the depths of space, with the same precision as NASA’s telescope, within ten years.

    Tiangong-1/Shenzhou-9
    © AFP 2020 / Dale de la Rey
    Tiangong-1/Shenzhou-9

    “China has planned the development of a series of research platforms and space-based infrastructure, and the telescope is likely to be defined as one of the largest projects in this program,” China Daily reported Gu Idun as saying.

    According to the technical adviser, the space telescope will have a diameter of around 2 meters and it will be similar to Hubble telescope in resolution, but its field of view will be 300 times larger than Hubble, allowing for it to provide continuous multi-color photometric and spectroscopic images.

    “The depth of measurement and unprecedented resolution ratio will allow the device to have a relatively high ability to shoot celestial bodies. However, at the same time, in front of the device there are very big challenges,” Gu Idun said.

    The device will have an advantage because it will be able to move in the same trajectory with the space station.

    “If necessary, Chinese scientists will be able to connect astronauts to the optical device and they will be able to carry out maintenance to improve the equipment,” the adviser said.

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    Tags:
    telescope, space exploration, Hubble Space Telescope, NASA, China
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