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National Central University spearheads Taiwan's 1st lunar mission

Taiwan-developed deep space radiation detector to be launched this year

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Taiwan's FORMOSAT-1 satellite. (Taiwan Space Agency photo)

Taiwan's FORMOSAT-1 satellite. (Taiwan Space Agency photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's first international lunar exploration mission is nearing fruition, the National Central University (NCU) in Taoyuan announced on Monday (Jan. 29).

NCU faculty and students have developed a deep space radiation detector that is set to launch in the fourth quarter of this year, the university said. The project was in collaboration with HelioX Cosmos Company, the exclusive agent for Japan’s SpaceBD Company.

The university designed the contraption to conduct radiation measurements from Earth to the moon. It will be placed aboard “an international non-government moon mission that will qualify NCU's satellite avionics for deep space, while also providing measurements of the deep space radiation environment,” according to an NCU press release.

This project facilitates international cooperation in deep space exploration, connecting Taiwan with the global space industry.

Dr. Chang Chi-wei (張起維), the director of NCU’s Department of Space Science and Engineering, said there was a resurgence of lunar exploration projects in recent years, with countries planning to return to the moon and establish bases for long-term presence and resource utilization, per CNA. He noted that the opportunities for small and large satellites to travel to deep space or the moon together will increase.

Chang said "deep space" was defined as extending beyond 2,000 kilometers from Earth. Such a distance exposes spacecraft to ionizing radiation that is normally blocked or absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, he explained.

Understanding space radiation in deep space is crucial, as it can be harmful to both life and technology, he said.