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The Barker Files (Part VI): China as a Deep-Space Power

on Fri, 01/22/2016 - 08:02

By Raymond A. Keller, II, Ph.D.

Bright spots on Ceres

One who regularly reads the China Journal of Space Science cannot help but marvel at the vast strides being made in deep-space exploration by this emerging superpower.  Since outer space is limitless, there are clearly many directions the Chinese space exploration program could take.  That's why an article appearing in the May 2014 edition of the China Journal of Space Science, 34(5):516-517, "China's Deep-space Exploration to 2030," is so important; for it signals the focus that China's scientific establishment has placed on such questions as the origin and evolution of the solar system and its planets, the disastrous impact on the Earth by solar activities and smaller bodies, such as asteroids; and most importantly, the existence of extraterrestrial life in our solar system and beyond.  Essentially, the referenced journal article, written by the leadership team of the Key Laboratory of Lunar and Deep Space Exploration of the National Astronomical Observatories headquartered in the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, Zou Yongliao, Li Wei and Ouyang Ziyuan, outlines the objectives of China's deep-space exploration program and the roadmap that is being followed to attain these stated, lofty goals.

The Moon as a Stepping Stone

Since the inception of China's aerospace industry more than fifty years ago, the emphasis was placed on developing the technology required to get to the Moon.  Leadership cadre at China's early Lunar Exploration Program, that would later be expanded and renamed the Key Laboratory of Lunar and Deep-space Exploration, almost at the outset came to the conclusion that one day establishing bases on the Moon would provide China with the capacity to launch manned vehicles to the other planets and areas of interest throughout our solar system.  In other words, the Moon could be used as a stepping stone in the initial phases of research and even colonization for the planets, minor planets, asteroids and deep-space platforms, which was all planned to start around 2030.  The next step in such deep-space exploration, beyond the Moon, was to be Mars.  And following the red planet was to come the asteroids, the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, and then further into the very outer limits of the solar system.  Of course, all the while that this exploration will be carried out by China in deep-space, it was a given that their astronauts and other personnel would forever remain vigilant in the search for an extraterrestrial intelligence cohabiting the celestial realms. 

In explaining how the Chinese deep-space exploration program would carry out these investigations, Zou Yongliao wrote in a 9 April 2014 e-mail addressed to the subscribers of the China Journal of Space Science:  "In about 15 years before 2030, nine or ten times deep-space exploration missions would be implemented, according to China's existing scientific, aerospace technology and economic basis and development capabilities.  All these missions will be executed by three stages.  The first stage plans to explore Mars, whose natural environment is close to the Earth's, as well as some asteroids and the Sun which may have disastrous effects on the Earth...."  Zou pointed out that this was the stage that includes the Mars Global Remote Sensing orbiter, in addition to a small rover.  Additionally, this stage was particularly important because it was noted that it would also be equipped with near-Earth asteroid multi-target detection, along with Sun fixed-point observation capability. 

He also went on to declare that, "The second stage, called the further promotion, will continue to explore Mars, solar activity and main-belt asteroid, which includes Venus exploration orbiter, Mars lander and rover, the solar polar orbit observations and the main-belt asteroid (Ceres) sample return."  Remember that Zou indicated here his country's interest in bringing a sample from Ceres back to the Earth in April 2014, one year before NASA actually revealed some of the photos taken by its Dawn spacecraft on 6 March 2015, almost one year later, clearly depicting an intense array of lights being emitted from the large Occator crater on that distant orb.  Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission director at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was quoted in NASA's website,, in an article titled "Ceres' Bright Spots Seen in Striking New Detail" on 9 September 2015, that, "Dawn has transformed what was so recently a few bright dots into a complex and beautiful, gleaming landscape."  Unfortunately, he went on to obfuscate the matter and draw attention away from a possible connection of the lights to an alien base constructed on the crater floor by pontificating, "Soon, the scientific analysis will reveal the geological and chemical nature of this mysterious and mesmerizing extraterrestrial scenery."  Once again, NASA lives up to its acronymn... Never A Straight Answer.  On the other hand, it appears as though the Chinese were well aware of something unique taking place on Ceres, such a small, obscure and remote sphere in the distant asteroid belt but possibly holding direct evidence for an extraterrestrial presence in our solar system. 

The third stage refers to "sustainable development."  Notes Zou:  "On the basis of the first two stages, including Jupiter orbiter, Mars sample return and solar storms panoramic observation."   This may entail an analysis of the effects of radiation in deep-space on any colonization efforts. 

Note:  More to come.  This blog will be developed further.