China’s first space-based scientific satellite for dark matter search – “WuKong” or “Monkey King” was launched successfully from Jiuquan satellite launch center at 08:12 (China Standard Time) on Tuesday, December 17th. This satellite is the first of a series of space science missions of Strategic Priority Program on space science from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS). With its successful launch, Wukong, together with the following missions, will upgrade the space study of China to a new height.
Wukong, also named the Dark Matter Particle explorer (DAMPE), is a 1.7 ton special purposed science satellite. Its payload consists of four sub-detector developed by four branch institutes of CAS. The Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) of Nanjing, as the general payload unit, plays a leading role in the construction. Professor Jin Chang from PMO acts as the principal investigator (PI) for this project. Chang has also organized an international collaboration which includes teams from Swiss and Italian for the future science study.
This satellite will search for dark matter and apply cosmic ray study during the 3 year operation on orbit. Comparing with the similar telescopes for cosmic ray study, it has the advantages of covering energy range from 5 GeV to 10 TeV, good energy resolution and large acceptance area. These Properties are designed to match the demand of a precise measurement of cosmic rays. We expect Wukong to bring breakthroughs in related physics and astronomy areas, especially in dark matter search, the origin of cosmic rays and high energy gamma observation.