China plans to turn the moon into an outpost for defending the Earth from asteroids, say scientists

According to experts working on the project, Beijing may expand the planetary defense system it is building in China to the moon and beyond to shield the Earth from asteroids that might conceivably wipe out a city or human civilization.

Putting three guardian satellites into the moon's orbit around the Earth with plenty of fuel and kinetic weaponry is part of the new plan, according to Wu Weiren, lead designer of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.

On the south and north poles of the moon, two optical telescopes would be constructed to scan the sky for any hazards that eluded the ground-based early warning system, particularly those coming from the sun's blind side.

Do you have inquiries concerning the most significant issues and global trends? Discover the solutions with SCMP Knowledge, a brand-new platform including selected content from our award-winning team that includes explainers, FAQs, analyses, and infographics.

According to the idea, the system will dispatch one or all of the guardian satellites to intercept an asteroid with a lead time as small as one week when it detects a surprise visitor that may inflict significant harm. This would be quicker than any massive rockets fired from Earth.

In a paper that was published in the Chinese peer-reviewed journal Scientia Sinica Informationis on Wednesday, Wu and his colleagues claimed that the system would be able to intercept incoming asteroids from all directions and could form a defense circle that was about 800,000 kilometers in diameter, or about twice the distance between the moon and Earth.

The lunar defense line, which the Chinese government has not yet authorized, would advance China's space technology to unprecedented heights, the experts claimed. Examples include far-reaching, sensitive monitoring and ultra-high-speed capacity.

China is constructing a massive radar and telescope-based Earth defense system in an effort to control a mass extinction catastrophe similar to the one that took off the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

However, Wu asserts that an Earth-based system has its limitations.

According to an estimate by astrophysicists, around 60% of asteroids large enough to kill a country were not discovered and monitored by humanity, even if the likelihood of an extinction-level impact remains low.

Prior to the asteroid strike, none of the significant impacts that have occurred on Earth since the 1970s had raised an alarm.

According to Wu's team, all of these asteroids originated from the direction of the sun.

Detection using optical telescopes was nearly difficult due to the sun's brightness. Tracking known targets improved the performance of radar systems. They said that the possibility of finding distant tiny celestial objects was further diminished by the expanding number of satellites in orbit, such as SpaceX's Starlink system.

According to Wu and his colleagues, who estimated that the viewing angles of lunar telescopes would nearly completely cover the whole blind spot on Earth, the majority of these issues may be solved with telescopes operated at the moon's poles.

It would take a lot of resources and money to construct such a facility on the moon's surface. According to Wu's team, China will probably extend an invitation to other nations to join them in constructing the observatories as part of the International Lunar Research Station, a project that Beijing and Moscow jointly initiated to establish a permanent habitation on the moon by 2030.

However, China would first fly satellites into the moon's orbit to test the most recent monitoring, tracking, and interception technology before breaking ground on the moon.

The telescopes and sensors aboard these satellites, according to the academics, might aid in safeguarding China's national security.

They claimed in the report that they "had the capability to monitor the geosynchronous orbit," a high-altitude band that is home to several military and telecom satellites.

The Earth-defense satellites might assist China in closely monitoring the satellites of other nations "and enhance the capability to protect high-value space assets."

The performance and precision of the BeiDou satellite positioning system, the Chinese equivalent of GPS, may be enhanced with the installation of ultra-precise atomic clocks on these new satellites, they stated.

Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, expressed his alarm over China's potential control of the moon earlier this month.

The Chinese government responded by claiming that it had consistently supported the creation of a shared future for mankind in space.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP), for more than a century, has been the most reliable source of information about China and Asia. Visit the SCMP app or its Facebook and Twitter accounts for other SCMP stories. All rights reserved. Copyright 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd.

South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. reserves all rights.