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China launched satellite in search for Dark Matter

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Beijing: China on Thursday launched its first Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) satellite in a fresh search for smoking-gun signals of the invisible material that scientists believe makes up most of the universe’s mass.

The DAMPE satellite, nicknamed “Wukong” after the Monkey King with penetrating eyes in the Chinese classical fiction “Journey to the West”, blasted off on Thursday morning on a Long March 2-D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Gansu province, Xinhua news agency reported.

It will enter a sun-synchronous orbit at a height of 500 km to observe the direction, energy and electric charge of high-energy particles in space.

From there, scientists hope the 1.9-tonne desk-sized satellite could help raise the “invisible cloak” on the dark matter and shine more light on the hypothetical mass.

With the new DAMPE satellite, scientists will look for evidence of dark matter annihilation or decay.

Wukong will scan the space in all directions in the first two years and focus on sections where dark matter are most likely to be observed afterwards.

More than 100 scientists will study the data sent back by Wukong. Initial findings are expected to be published in the second half of 2016.

Dark matter, which does not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be observed directly, is one of the huge mysteries of modern science.

Theorised by scientists who could not understand missing mass and strangely bent light in faraway galaxies, dark matter has become widely accepted in the physics community even though its existence has never been concretely proven.

Scientists now believe only around five percent of the total mass-energy of the known universe are made up of ordinary matter, whereas dark matter and dark energy make up the rest.

Knowing more about dark matter could hence give humanity a clearer idea about the past as well as future of galaxies and the universe, and will be revolutionary for the world of physics and space science. (IANS), (image courtesy: space.com)

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Shanghai Airport Gets Check-In With Facial Recognition Machines

Increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate. VOA

It’s now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Similar efforts are under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

Shanghai,
Face recognition tool was first launched in 2012

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” said Zhang Zheng, general manager of the ground services department for Spring Airlines, the first airline to adopt the system at Hongqiao airport. Currently, only Chinese identity card holders can use the technology.

Spring Airlines, Shanghai said Tuesday that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life. Mainland police have used facial recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.

Chinese media are filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it’s possible to pay using facial recognition technology; a school that uses facial recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.

Also Read: Facial Recognition Technology Catches A Person With Fake Passpost At The US Airport 

But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.” (VOA)