China will publish a detailed plan for a mission to search for Earth-like exoplanets within a month. A news article about this was published in the journal Nature.
In 2021, the first Chinese rover “Zhuzhong” began work and the Chinese space station “Tiangong” was launched into orbit. Now the country’s plans include the study of the universe outside the solar system.
To do this, China is going to launch the Earth 2.0 mission by 2026. As the name implies, its ultimate goal will be to find a twin of the Earth: a planet with a similar size and gravity, rich in water and with a temperature suitable for life.
The mission will be funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and specialists are currently completing an early design phase.
The Earth 2.0 orbiter will carry seven telescopes. Seven of them will be sent to the area of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, in the same sector that NASA’s Kepler telescope studied.
“Kepler’s field of view is a convenient target because we already have good data from there,” says Jian Ge of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, head of the project. “Our satellite will be 10 to 15 times more powerful than Kepler.”
Earth 2.0’s seventh instrument will be a gravitational lensing telescope designed to search for orphan planets that do not orbit a star.
By supplementing the Kepler data, Chinese astronomers hope to find at least a dozen Earth twins.
If the search is successful, we may also learn about our space brothers who live on a planet similar to us.