China to hunt for Earth-like planets with formation-flying telescopes

China has set its sights on establishing a network of telescopes in deep space to explore the existence of potentially inhabitable planets orbiting distant stars.

Known as the Miyin project, the initiative aims to deploy a fleet of four light-gathering telescopes and a beam combiner to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2.

These spacecraft will operate in formation, utilizing interferometric techniques to achieve precise angular resolution and conduct mid-infrared observations, Space News reported.

The primary objective is to directly capture images and acquire detailed information about exoplanets in the vicinity of Sun-like stars located up to 65 light-years away within our own Milky Way galaxy.

While still in the developmental stage, the Miyin project envisions conducting on-orbit technology demonstrations in 2024, followed by interferometry experiments conducted aboard the Tiangong space station a year later.

Subsequently, a prototype of the telescope array is expected to be launched around 2027, paving the way for the construction of a comprehensive five-spacecraft system at the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2 by 2030.

There are even plans to expand the array further with an additional four spacecraft in a subsequent mission phase beyond 2030.

Written by staff