The Chinese Space Station Telescope will survey half of the sky over ten years.

Eyes Up

China is gearing up to begin launching the pieces of its upcoming space station, Tiangong-3, into orbit. And soon thereafter, reports, the Chinese space agency will also launch a new orbital observatory with the same image quality as the Hubble Space Telescope, that will be attached to the station.

The Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST) will have the same resolution as the Hubble, but with a field of view 300 times larger, allowing it to survey 40 percent of the sky in about a decade.

Alone Time

The telescope will reportedly be attached to an "optional" module of Tiangong-3 that can detach and fly independently, according to, a trick that will grant it a less-impeded view of the cosmos.

"Meanwhile, we will make it fly approximately in common orbit with the future space station," the chief designer of China's human spaceflight program, Zhou Jianping, told the state-controlled outlet China Central Television last month. "This will help us refuel the telescope and carry out in-orbit upgrade[s] for it, so as to always keep it on the level of an international frontier."

Big Goals

China has big plans for the CSST, notes, and plans to use it to study nearby asteroids and more distant space rocks, map out structure of the universe, observe how galaxies form and develop, and even to hunt for dark matter and dark energy, both of which have eluded every other attempt at their discovery.

Meanwhile, NASA is preparing to launch its own Hubble successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, after years upon years of delays. With both observatories in the sky, we can likely expect an enormous leap forward in our understanding of the cosmos.

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