Satnews Daily
December 16th, 2015

China's DAMPE Satellite Is Now Seeking Dark Matter

Artistic rendition of China's DAMPE satellite. DAMPE (DArk Matter Particle Explore) is one of the five satellite missions in the framework of the Strategic Pioneer Research Program in Space Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), with a launch date planned to be in December 2015 into a sun-synchronous orbit at the altitude of 500 km.

[Satnews] is reporting that the country, on Thursday, sent into space their first Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite in a fresh search for smoking-gun signals of the invisible material that scientists say make up most of the universe's mass.

The Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE), named Wukong, was announced by the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on Wednesday. The satellite is named after the Monkey King in the classic Chinese tale, "Journey to the West," following a global campaign to solicit a name for the Chinese-made satellite.Literally, "wu" means comprehension or understanding and "kong" means space, so "Wukong" the satellite has a mission to "understand the space," according to the NSSC.

Wukong is a household name in China. In the story, he has supernatural powers and is responsible for protecting a pilgrim from the East on a journey to India to retrieve the Buddhist sutras. Like Wukong's sharp eyes that can see through everything, the DAMPE has the widest-ever observation spectrum and highest-ever energy resolution, more than 3three times higher than its other counterparts. It will observe the direction, energy and electric charge of high-energy particles in space in search of dark matter.

The National Space Science Center, Purple Mountain Observatory of the CAS in Nanjing and, launched a worldwide campaign to solicit a name for the DAMPE. The number of entries gathered from September 29 to October 31 reached 32,000—with nearly 1,000 received every day.