China and France are preparing to launch a satellite to search for gamma-ray bursts

France is set to send a pair of advanced scientific instruments to China in preparation for the launch of a joint space observatory.

The Space-Based Multi-Range Astronomical Variable Object Monitor (SVOM) is the result of a collaboration launched in 2014 between the National Space Administration of China (CNSA) and the National Center for Space Research (CNES).

The satellite will monitor short-lived and extremely powerful cosmic explosions known as gamma-ray bursts by detecting high-energy X-ray and gamma-ray electromagnetic radiation.

On the subject: What is a gamma-ray burst?

As part of the joint mission, China will provide a Gamma Ray Burst Monitor (GRM) to measure the emission spectrum of GRBs and a Visible Telescope (VT) that will search for light emitted at optical wavelengths immediately after the GRB.

Meanwhile, France is responsible for the development of the ECLAIR telescope and the Microchannel X-ray Telescope (MXT), the latter using an innovative “lobster eye”. (will open in a new tab)optics for a large field of view.

The 2,050-pound (930 kg) satellite is now due to be launched on a Long March 2C rocket from the Xichang Space Center in southwest China in December.

Mission Twitter account released (will open in a new tab) in Feb. 21, two payloads are now ready to go to China for satellite integration.

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The SVOM satellite was developed by China’s Shanghai Microsatellite Engineering Center and is designed for a nominal three-year mission with a possible two-year extended mission.

Both China and France will participate in the ground segment of the mission to control the spacecraft, obtain scientific data and organize follow-up observations of gamma-ray bursts.

Missionary Consortium (will open in a new tab) includes institutions such as the Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP) in France and the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) and the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in China, as well as the University of Leicester in the UK and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

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