China to launch dark matter particle explorer by 2015

China is set to launch its very own dark matter satellite into space by the end of 2015.

According to People’s Daily on Friday, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has recently completed the construction of the satellite’s payload, a core element that enables the satellite to perform its mission. The satellite is expected to be fully assembled by this October, and will start a three-year exploration for dark matter particles in space at the end of the year.

Dark matter is a hypothetical, invisible form of matter that was inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, namely stars and gas clouds. While the visible matter is more familiar to most people, it only makes up around 5% of the entire universe. Dark matter, on the other hand, accounts for nearly a quarter of the universe.

However, the rays emitted by dark matter are still too weak to be directly detected, which has largely limited human’s knowledge of the universe. China’s new dark matter particle explorer, according to the project’s leader Chang Jin, is designed with an unprecedented energy detector, which aims to identify possible dark matter signatures.

The satellite is one of the five space science missions within the framework of the Strategic Pioneer Research Program in Space Science of the CAS.