China is looking for new lands

China continues to dedicate its major infrastructure projects to aerospace. With the Miyin project, the Chinese space agency wants to find new habitable planets with conditions close to ours on Earth.

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It is one of the most complex space missions ever undertaken in China. Mi’s plan It will have four space telescopes that will fly in formation with a fifth vehicle. All are placed at the Lagrange point L2 of the Earth-Sun system. The project has several demonstration stages before a commissioning objective in the early 2030s.

Chinese James-Webb telescope error

The resolution of the James-Webb Telescope (JWST) is currently unmatched, its focal length unprecedented and its sensitivity to light impressive. China is currently unable to produce a comparable space telescope. CNSA (China National Space Agency- (Chinese Space Agency) is developing a telescope that is similar to the Hubble Space Telescope. With the Miyin mission, CNSA seeks to directly image exo-Earths.

If you want to search for extraterrestrial life, exo-Earths are the best candidates outside our solar system. CNSA wants to find, photograph and study their habitat. For this, Miin will search for stars like our Sun around them and study their signal in the infrared. This is the reason telescopes are sent into space: this radiation is censored by filtering our atmosphere.

Miyin’s research field is limited to our nearest stars, within a distance of 65 light years. But directly imaging exo-Earths around their star would require a lot of total surface area to directly receive every photon from the targets. At this stage of the project’s development, the surfaces of the four space telescopes are still unknown.

NASA’s HapX program. © NASA, JBL-Caltech


Mi’s project relies on interferometry techniques to guarantee excellent angular resolution. This is the role of the fifth element of the fleet: to connect the collected beams. The telescopes and the coupler are spaced 40 to 300 meters apart. They can thus provide a spatial resolution of 0.01 second for structures within 20 parsecs.

Indeed, distinguishing the weak light signal from the planet and reflecting its star requires good resolution so as not to confuse the two with the same pixels. Spectrum analysis of exoplanets would otherwise be very difficult. Mi’s resolution is equivalent to a future plan Livable World Observatory (HabEx) from NASA, a suite of space telescopes whose mirror diameters should reach six meters and contain a coronagraph.

Several demonstrations before commissioning

Project details are available revealed During an event on the page China Space Day 2023 marks the anniversary of the launch of the first Chinese satellite on April 24, 1970. China is increasingly interested in exoplanets. Many more works are under study. Miin will also study the protoplanetary disks from which future star systems form.

Miyin is in the lower design stage China Institute of Aerospace Science and Technology (CCAC). Several demonstrations are planned before construction: a technology test mission in orbit in 2024, as well as several interferometry tests in space from the Chinese space station next year. Scheduled to be commissioned in 2030, four additional space telescopes could be added to the fleet a few years later.

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