China tests world’s first lobster eye space telescope to X-ray universe

The new lobster-eye technology was created over ten years by Weimin’s team and engineers from North Night Vision Technology, a Nanjing-based firm in China.

“The surface of the pores needs to be extremely flat and smooth, with less than one nanometre of error,” said Weimin.

Einstein Prob

China tests world’s first ‘lobster eye’ space telescope to X-ray universe more accurately

A Chinese researcher installs the lobster-eye telescope, or the Lobster Eye Imager for Astronomy (LEIA), on Nov. 22, 2021.

Each of the 12 modules that make up the main telescope on the Einstein Probe has more than 30 million square micropores. To boost reflectivity, an ultrathin layer of iridium is applied to the pores, which measure 40 micrometers along the side.

The best X-ray observatory operated by NASA, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, can only capture images slightly larger than the size of the full moon. While as the architecture of the Einstein Probe will allow the telescope to observe an area of the sky comparable to 10,000 full moons. 

Weimin’s team also created complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors that serve as detectors for X-rays and transform them into electric signals for digital processing.

CMOS sensors are frequently used in camera phones, but according to Weimin, “it’s probably the first time they are used for X-ray detection in space.”  

These sensors are substantially less expensive, require less cooling, and have quick readout speeds than conventional CCD (charge-coupled device) sensors, as per him. 

The Einstein Probe is anticipated to discover many faint or far-off high-energy cosmic events once it is in orbit. It is claimed to revolutionize research on the supermassive black holes that are the nuclei of most galaxies, South China Morning Post (SCMPreported on Monday. 

‘Lobster eye’ telescope to liftoff in 2023 

China tests world’s first ‘lobster eye’ space telescope to X-ray universe more accurately

Chinese researchers test the lobster-eye telescope, or the Lobster Eye Imager for Astronomy (LEIA), on Nov. 27, 2021.

Even though scientists from the U.S., Europe, and Japan have suggested related projects, they have yet to advance to the design stage. Therefore, there won’t be much international competition when the Einstein Probe launches, stated Weimin.

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