As in our mission statements our plans are to build capacity, connectivity, creativity and collaboration so we emerge as a powerful university force in Astrophysics and Space and Planetary Sciences in the Greater Bay Area and indeed globally. As part of these aims in July 25th 2020 we launched the Lobster Eye X-ray Satellite with our close partner Nanjing University. This is a novel “lobster-eye” X-ray telescope, is the first such space science mission for this technology. It is also the first Chinese soft X-ray telescope, the first satellite science mission and instrument based on a collaboration between Chinese universities dedicated to astronomy research, and most importantly the first satellite that has ever been co-led by the University of Hong Kong. The scientific goals include searching for the so-called elusive “sterile neutrino” particle and the constituents of dark matter. The potential science dividend and impact of this satellite are globally significant and cutting-edge and will be reported in due course. We are also now well on our way to developing our second science satellite based on a UV telescope with several of our Mainland partners and expect to launch in late 2021 early 2022. We are also planning an MeV Gamma-ray telescope in a 6U cubesat platform mission with our Padova-CISAS and Zhejiang partners and have links to several missions and potential missions.
For 2021 we have two major plans:
1) to establish a joint HKU-CAS lab in Space and Planetary Sciences based on the MoU we signed with CSU in May 2020. If successful this will be the first HKU-CAS joint lab in 10 years
2) to establish our INSPIRE lab in Dongguan (International Space and Planetary Institute for Research Excellence).
We are hopeful for success with both these major initiatives. They will strengthen our base and help promote Mainland projects and collaborations.