After NASA used its Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors to confirm the existence of gravitational waves and confirm Einstein's theory of general relativity, many people in the scientific community hailed it as a breakthrough that will change the way we explore the universe. Now, China plans to launch its own gravitational wave detection project, which will be spearheaded by the pre-research team of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The team is aiming to submit their plan, also known as the Taji project, to the science and technology authorities as soon as possible for assessment and currently involves two different options: one involving a 20 percent stake in the eLISA project of ESA and the other the launch of China's own satellite in 2033 in support of ESA's eLISA project.
"Gravitational waves provide us with a new tool to understand the universe, so China has to actively participate in the research," said Hu Wenrui, a Chinese physicist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"If we launch our own satellites, we will have a chance to be a world leader in gravitational wave research in the future," he added. "If we just participate in the eLISA project, it will also greatly boost China's research capacity in space science and technology. In either case, it depends on the decision-makers' resolution and the country's investment."
With India's recent deal with the U.S. for LIGO gravitational waves research, it's no surprise that China is looking to get its foot in the door.
"Today is an exciting day because it offers the promise of deepening our understanding and opening an even wider window to our universe," said France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation. "We look forward to working closely with our Indian colleagues in this endeavor to further our knowledge of the most energetic phenomena in the cosmos."
The team involved in the Taji project claims that China's involvement in the novel discovery is important in order to continue gaining insights into the world.
The project will likely gain the support of funding in the range of $160 million yuan to $15 billion yuan, which is approximately $24.3 million to $1.5 billion U.S. dollars. In addition, China believes that if it decides to launch its own satellite, it will have the chance to become a leader in the field of gravitational wave detection.
Just like India, scientists are hopeful that the project will act as a motivator for young students and new scientists and push people to get involved in the discovery in order to expand human understanding of the universe.
The next step in the field of gravitational waves detection research is to observe the ripples simultaneously with multiple interferometers and catch them in the optical or X-ray bands, something that China's research team will no doubt have a role in achieving.