BEIJING – The Chinese satellite Wukong, launched in December 2015 to explore dark matter in the universe, will stay active for two more years despite completing its expected service life, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.
According to its operating team, the performance of Wukong – or Monkey King, the name of a famous Chinese literary character – has not dipped in the three years of its operation.
During that time, it has detected around 5.5 billion cosmic particles after orbiting the earth 16,597 times at an altitude of 500 kilometers.
Scientists expect the explorer to detect “300 electrons that are different from the normal energy spectrum” by the end of 2019, helping to research the nature of these electrons.
The satellite includes China’s first space telescope, which records the direction, power and electrical load of high-energy space particles.
The information provided by the explorer helps in trying to understand dark matter, a hypothetical form of matter accounting for 85 percent of all matter in the universe.
Scientists deduced the existence of dark matter in the 1970’s due to its gravitational effects on visible matter, although knowledge about the phenomenon remains scarce.