April 5, 2016 – China put into space a retrievable scientific research satellite in the early hours of Wednesday in a fresh bid to aid scientists back on Earth in studying microgravity and space life science.
As part of a growing program of space science research, Shijian-10 is China’s first microgravity experimental satellite and will spend 15 days in space before returning to Earth with results for analysis.
The National Space Science Centre (NSSC) in Beijing under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) states the satellite will carry out 19 experiments in a range of fields during its brief time in orbit.
These include microgravity fluid physics, microgravity combustion, space material science, space radiation, the effects of microgravity on biological processes, and space biotechnology.
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The project has been jointly developed by 11 institutes of CAS, together with six Chinese universities, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The Soret Coefficient in Crude Oil (SCCO) experiment, created through collaboration between ESA, the NSSC, France’s Total oil company and PetroChina of China, aims investigate the behaviour of oil under high pressure to increase understanding of crude oil reservoirs kilometres underground.
The on-board experiments were selected from 200 applications.
According to an NSSC paper (pdf), the life science experiments include investigation into the development of mouse early embryos in space, and roles of space radiation on genomic DNA and its genetic effects.
Physical experiments include investigation of the coal combustion and pollutant formation under microgravity, crystal growth in space, ignition and burning of solid materials in microgravity, and the above crude oil experiment.
People’s Daily writes that scientists all over the world are working on facilities to create microgravity conditions, such as parabolic aircraft, sounding rockets and other experimental platforms, but longer studies require a satellite like Shijian-10.