As China’s first lab module Wentian, belonging to its space station – also the largest and heaviest spacecraft – has been sent to the space, the solar wings installed on it has also grabbed attention since it’s the largest flexible solar array the country ever used for a spacecraft.
The wingspan of the pair of solar panels on the Wentian lab module can reach over 55 meters long. Each solar wing spreads to 110 square meters when fully unfolded – almost as large as a decent sized apartment with a living room and three bedrooms. The total area of the solar array will reach as large as 400 square meters when three main modules including the core module and the two lab modules are assembled.
Wentian’s solar wing is two times larger than that of the core module Tianhe. Only four of such solar wings can generate 80 percent of the power for the combination of the core module and two lab modules.
There are a slew of dark-color glass-like pieces aligned on the solar wings, forming a solar array which can achieve a high power conversion efficiency of 30 percent. Traditional solar panels only convert 15-22 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity.
The power supply capacity of the batteries supported by the solar wings can generate an average of over 430 kilowatt electricity daily – enough for the consumption of an ordinary household for one and a half months.
The solar wings are installed at the tail of the Wentian module to avoid being blocked by each other at certain angles from the sun and to maximize the power generation efficiency .
Flexible solar wing technology
It is not the first time that China has adopted flexible solar wings as an energy source for a spacecraft. In fact, the flexible solar wings were first used on the core module Tianhe with each wing measuring 67 square meters.
The application of solar wings for China’s space projects has witnessed the country’s ceaseless advance in solar array technology.
It developed its first generation rigid solar array technology for the Shenzhou manned spaceship project. Then the second generation of semi-rigid solar array technology was adopted for the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft.
The flexible solar array technology is the third generation technology which has been used on all the modules of the space station.
The estimated electricity consumption for three taikonauts living and working in the space station for one day is roughly 320 kilowatt. The traditional rigid or semi-rigid solar wings failed to meet the demand due to the limitation of its size, weight and power. That’s where the flexible solar wings came in.
Compared with the traditional rigid and semi-rigid solar cell wings, the flexible wings are small in size, large in deployment area, and high in power-to-weight ratio.
The flexible wing is only one book thick after being folded, which is only 1/15 of the rigid solar wing. During the launch, the flexible solar wings were first folded tightly like a closed accordion. Each panel is less than one millimeter thick, thus reducing the volume of the folded arrays to just 20 percent the volume of traditional solar panels.
It is made of ultra-thin lightweight composite materials, and the coating thickness of the glue layer used to protect the space environment is also strictly controlled.
China rises to 11th in Global Innovation Index 2022
China rose to 11th on the Global Innovation Index 2022, up from 12th last year, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on Thursday.
Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands rounded out the top five, said the WIPO report.
China has stepped up efforts in recent years to transform itself into an intellectual property powerhouse. China, which ranked 34th a decade ago, is now on the verge of entering the top 10. It’s a result of unremitting efforts, said Daren Tang, director general of the WIPO.
He noted that the Chinese government attaches great importance to intellectual property rights, and has created an innovation ecosystem in a very comprehensive way.
The R&D spending in China has increased in recent years, and the brand value of traditional and emerging companies has increased in a short period of time, said Dr. Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, co-editor of The Global Innovation Index at the WIPO.
He indicated that the global innovation landscape has also changed in recent years.
Seven out of 10 intellectual property applications now come from Asia, Africa and Latin America, compared with just five out of 10 a decade ago, said Wunsch-Vincent.
Tang believes places with huge populations and economic potential are starting to engage and shape the global innovation landscape. He added that it’s a positive trend for the world, which he believes will continue.
In the future, the global focus will not only be on how to invest in innovation, but also on how to transform that investment into economic and social impact, according to Tang.
R&D and investment in innovation activities around the world boomed in 2021 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The R&D spending of the world’s top companies rose nearly 10 percent in 2021 and venture capital deals surged 46 percent, said the report, adding that some developing economies are doing better than expected in terms of innovation.
China keeps close sci-tech cooperation with major innovative countries despite U.S. tech war: Official
China maintains close science and technological cooperation with the world’s major innovation powerhouses, such as countries in Europe and the Middle East, despite the complicated international environment, according to an official.
Yang Song, deputy director of the International Cooperation Department of Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission and Zhongguancun Administrative Committee, told CGTN that Beijing has been actively promoting sci-tech cooperation with other countries through establishing inter-governmental cooperation platforms.
China now has various cooperation mechanisms with many key innovative countries, she said, adding that the cooperation momentum between China and the world’s majority countries and regions has not been affected by the U.S.’s tech cold war against China.
For example, the Beijing-Tel Aviv Innovation Conference, a major platform for cooperation and exchanges between Chinese and Israeli innovative companies, has been successfully held for eight years, and has facilitated a number of Israeli tech companies to start businesses in Beijing, according to Yang.
The capital city currently has 189 foreign-funded enterprises with research and development (R&D) functions, she said.
Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company that takes up about 70 percent of the global market share of diabetes care, set up its Chinese R&D center in Beijing’s Zhongguancun in 1997, becoming the first multinational pharmaceutical company to do so.
“In recent years, as China has gradually become one of the world’s biotechnology powerhouses, we have truly felt the vitality of local innovative enterprises,” said Han Dan, President of Novo Nordisk’s Chinese R&D Center.
In March 2019, the company set up the INNOVO open innovation platform, hoping to expand R&D cooperation in China. Through the platform, the company’s Chinese R&D Center can join hands with Chinese universities, biotech companies, hospitals and research institutions to jointly promote early stage development of innovative drugs and share research findings, Han said.
Collaborations through the platform can cover a wide range of areas, including therapeutic areas such as the treatment of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, as well as innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and gene therapy to help solve key issues in drug development, she elaborated.
So far, Novo Nordisk has evaluated over 80 innovative projects, and reached cooperation intentions with more than 30 of them, Han added.
Zhongguancun Development Group, a company established in 2010 to serve Beijing’s innovation-driven development, has been proactively integrating into the global innovation network, said Lu Jiang, general manager of ZGC International Holding Limited.
So far, the company has set up innovation centers in the Silicon Valley in the U.S., Heidelberg in Germany and Tel Aviv in Israel, as well as corporate service offices in Canada’s Toronto, Finland’s Helsinki and Japan’s Tokyo, so as to link global innovation resources.
It has also signed strategic cooperation agreements with European institutions and companies such as France’s Photonics and Microwave Competitiveness Cluster known as Alpha-RLH and UK company 8 Hours Ahead, to jointly promote cross-border services for tech firms.
In international cooperation, China, as the world’s largest single market, has its unique advantage, Lu said.
As the country is undergoing manufacturing upgrading, it has great demand for innovative applications, which makes it extremely attractive to global tech companies, he added.
In ocean’s twilight zone, Maldivian aquanauts witness incredible scenes
Scientist Shafiya Naeem – the current Director General of Maldives Marine Research Institute is all about marine life. She worked at the Ministry of Fisheries since 2000 and researched marine life from 150 meters below. But one thing she never got the chance to do was travel to the deep sea.
On Sunday, September 11, Shafiya finally made it, entering history books with the deep descent into the twilight zone as part of an international science mission, among the first people from the world’s lowest-lying nation to make the journey.
In the expedition which is a joint initiative by UK-based Nekton and the Maldivian government, Shafiya along with research assistant colleague Farah Amjad led an all-female crew of aquanauts on the maiden dive of the Nekton Maldives Mission.
As part of the expedition, they will map, sample, and gather data on ocean health which can inform policymakers both in the Maldives and beyond, as the climate crisis deepens.
Nekton stated that there are almost no images of Maldivian waters below 30 meters, hence travelling to that depth itself was historical.
Speaking to Sun after the dive, Shafiya said that she was incredibly proud of getting this opportunity. She added that more than a self-accomplishment, she sees this as a boost to the knowledge of Maldives and Maldivian waters.
“Being a Maldivian, I am very proud to be one of the people to take part [in such an expedition]. To be able to see areas never seen before in Maldives is just the beginning of a bigger task.”
Shafiya noted that discussions with Nekton on researching deeper waters of Maldives began in 2019. She further said that gathering information on marine life was important for tourism as well.
“While the Maldivian waters are soon deep, we don’t actually know what lives there. We don’t know the connection between surface and deeper waters. Isn’t it important to know what lies in different parts of the ocean, even in managing resorts now?”
In the dive, the researchers explored 250 meters below surface level along the east coast of Laamu Atoll.
Shafiya revealed that they were able to see soft corals and sea urchins from this depth.
Yesterday @ShafiyaNaeem and Farah Amjad, made waves by being the first Maldivians to descend below scuba depth all the way down to 250m just off the coast of #Laamu in the #Maldives. Here's some of the highlights of their dive! #NektonMaldives2022 pic.twitter.com/YkInDkER2J
— Nekton (@nektonmission) September 12, 2022
The aquanauts kept the submersible at 150 and 60 meters and gathered information. She stated that at those levels they were able to see schools of various fishes.
While there are a total of 40 partners in the expedition, this includes 16 Maldivians. Moreover, there are 10 Maldivian marine scientists on the team that will be descending underwater.
The research will conclude on October 7, and in that duration the scientists will travel from Laamu atoll to the southernmost regions, working on gathering samples from different areas.
Participants hope to get a look at 1,000 meters below the Maldivian waters as well.
Speaking further on their process, Shafiya detailed that once all the work underwater is completed, they will be analyzing all the samples. She added that Maldivian scientists will be part of this as well.
All the data gathered from this research will be shared with Maldives and used to understand the conditions of the Maldivian waters, as well as for conservation work.
Shafiya expressed hope that the information they will gather would enable them to understand the steps to take in maintaining the marine life of Maldives.
“Looking at it that way, for me rather than this being a personal thing, it is an opportunity to gain important information for Maldives, that would increase the capabilities of Maldivians.”
Source: Nafaahath Ibrahim, Sun.mv
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