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China is preparing to launch its first solar probe in October

A recent report revealed that China will launch, next October, the first solar probe, which aims to study the relationships between the solar magnetic field, solar flares, and coronal mass emissions (CMEs).

Solar flares are intense bursts of light, while coronal mass ejections involve massive clouds of charged particles called plasmas. Both are thought to be caused by the sun's magnetic field.

The Advanced Solar Space Observatory (ASO-S) is a 888-kilogram satellite that will orbit Earth once every 90 minutes in a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 720 kilometers, CGTN reported.

The four-year project will start from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. After entering its orbit, the satellite will produce about 500 gigabytes of data per day, all of which will be shared around the world, the report said.

ASO-S has three payloads on one platform: Full Disc Magnetic Transmission (FMG), Lyman Alpha Solar Telescope (LST), and Hard X-ray Imaging (HXI).

In October 2021, China launched "Xihe", the solar explorer H-alpha (Chase), named after the sun goddess in ancient Chinese mythology to study the violent and sudden physical processes behind solar flares, and the report stated that "Xihe" is located in low Earth orbit. At an altitude of about 517 km.

Together, ASO-S and Xihe will join an international fleet of sun-gazing telescopes in space, including the European Space Agency's Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter, to closely monitor the sun as it approaches its next solar maximum. A period of high, solar activity is expected to reach its peak around 2025.

The sun has become more stormy since the current solar cycle began in December 2019. During the solar maximum, solar flares can occur several times a day, some of which may be as powerful as a billion hydrogen bombs, according to NASA.

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