China is now trying to look for a planet with Earth-like conditions. Beijing is trying to find an alternative home planet for humans that can exhibit conditions that are conducive to life. So, scientists are planning a mission to look for exoplanets that lie beyond our solar system. A planet that is in the habitable zone of its star in the Milky Way galaxy can be suitable for this purpose.
According to a report in the Nature journal, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has already conceptualised Earth 2.0, which is the name of the mission. Earth 2.0 is in its early stages of design.
This mission will be implemented in June while a team of experts reviews the plan. Once they clear the plan, the development and funding phase of the mission will take place. This will lead to the building phase of the satellite.
The mission will be supported by seven telescopes, which will scan the sky in order to find exoplanets. This is quite similar to NASA's Kepler mission.
Jian Ge, the lead astronomer on Earth 2.0, said in a statement, “The Kepler field is low-hanging fruit because we have very good data from there. Our satellite can be 1015 times more powerful than Nasa's Kepler telescope in its sky-surveying capacity.”
The report states that the “telescopes will look for exoplanets by detecting small changes in a star's brightness that indicate that a planet has passed in front of it”.
Out of the seven telescopes, six will study 1.2 million stars across a 500-square-degree patch of sky. Earth 2.0 will be able to observe more distant stars than can be seen through NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which surveys bright stars near Earth.
The seventh instrument will be a gravitational microlensing telescope for observing rogue planets (free-roaming celestial objects that don't orbit any star) and exoplanets (like Neptune) that are far from their star.
Jian Ge said, “There will be a lot of data, so we need all the hands we can get. Earth 2.0 is an opportunity for better international collaboration.”
The team of Chinese scientists hopes to find at least a dozen Earth 2.0 planets within a few years of its operations.