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China's dark matter satellite concludes in-orbit test

March 21, 2016

According to officials, China's first dark matter detection satellite has completed three months of in-orbit testing. Dark matter is an invisible material, making up most of the universe's mass.

During its 92-day flight, the satellite found 460 million high energy particles, Gadget 360 reports.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said the satellite's initial findings are expected to be released by the end of the year.

Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite "Wukong" chief scientist, Chang Jin, said DAMPE sent around 2.4TB of raw data back to Earth.

Wukong was launched on a Long March 2D rocket on December 17 last year. On March 17 it was handed over to the CAS Purple Mountain Observatory.

The four major parts of the payload are reported to have functioned satisfactorily. The parts included a plastic scintillator array detector, a silicon array detector, a BGO calorimeter and a neutron detector.

State-run Xinhua news agency reported that all set tests were completed with all technical indicators reaching or exceeding expectations.

Designed for a three-year mission, Wukong will use the first two years to scan space nonstop in all directions. In the third year, the satellite will focus on areas where dark matter is most likely to be observed.

A new CAS report on the future of space science promises "major progress and breakthroughs" by 2030 with research into the search for extra-terrestrial life and the formation and evolution of the universe.

The satellite was named Wukong after the Monkey King from the Chinese classical fiction "Journey to the West."

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