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By Sunil Kumar

China will ramp up its space exploration plans from 2014, with a shiny new kit to probe black holes, study dark matter and search for signs of alien life, one of the country’s top astronomical researchers said.

Su Dingqiang, former president of the Chinese Astronomical Society and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, revealed the plans to local media at the opening ceremony of the International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s 28th General Assembly on Tuesday.

According to the Xinhua, the Chinese news agency,  a hard x-ray modulation telescope (HXMT), currently under construction, will be sent into orbit around the Earth between 2014 and 2016 using a Ziyuan II satellite.

The explanation: Hard X-ray band is a key waveband for high energy astrophysics study. Exploring various kinds of black holes is a major frontier of physics and astronomy in the new century. Hard X-rays originate mostly from regions closest to black holes and are highly penetrative, and are therefore important tools for studying the physical processes in the extreme conditions such as high matter density, high energy density, high electric-magnetic field, and high gravitational field.

The country also plans to build the biggest radio telescope in the world; more than 500 metres which beats the world’s current record-holder, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

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