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China’s Tiangong-2 Space Module Turns On Its Scientific Instruments, Looking for Gamma Ray Bursts

Oct. 7, 2016 (EIRNS)—China’s new Tiangong-2 orbiting module had its scientific instruments turned on, on Sept. 22, and now the 14 instruments have been checked out, and will soon begin delivering data. Andrew Jones, in gbtimes, has a review today of the POLAR instrument, which is a gamma ray detector, tasked, for the first time, to measure the polarization of gamma ray emissions. This could shed light on the causal mechanisms of these powerful explosions in the universe, he explains. Jones says that should a Gamma Ray Burst take place in the Milky Way and be directed toward the Earth, the intese radiation that would be released "could have a dire effect on the Earth and its atmosphere."

The POLAR instrument was a collaboration with Switzerland and Poland, and the Principal Investigator is Nicolas Produit of the University of Geneva. "Polarization is essentially untouched territory," Produit explained, "so we cannot predict what we will find. Any measurement of polarization degree is interesting, as theoretical predictions vary from 0 to 100%." POLAR will be able to look at galaxies outside our own. It will be turned off when the Shenzhou-11 crew members visit the small lab in the coming weeks.