04:34 GMT +319 December 2018
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    This NASA handout image received 15 May 2007 shows dark matter ring in a galaxy center

    China Launches First Satellite to Probe Dark Matter (VIDEO)

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    China on Thursday launched its first space telescope into Earth orbit to search for signs of the hypothetical dark matter, which constitutes most of the universe's mass, Chinese media reported.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite was launched Thursday morning atop the Long March 2-D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) in the Gobi desert, Xinhua news agency reported.

    Entering a heliosynchronous orbit at the height of 500 kilometers (311 miles), the satellite will observe space particle properties and search for signs of dark matter decay. Over a 100 scientists will study data gathered by the satellite, with the first results to be available by late 2016. 

    Dark matter does not emit electromagnetic radiation, and remains immune to direct observation. Astrophysicists have so far only observed gravitational effects of dark matter on cosmic objects, such as galaxies and galaxy clusters. Indirect observations include searching for excess gamma ray emissions, which may be the product weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP) decay. The theoretical WIMPs are thought to be the main component of dark matter.

    Visible matter has been calculated to account for only 4.9 percent of the universe's matter and energy distribution, with dark matter accounting for 26.8 percent. The rest is accounted for by dark energy, am unknown form of energy permeating the entire universe.


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