China’s Newly Launched SpaceLab Empowers Human Brain/Computer Interaction –“Can Transmit Astronauts’ Thoughts into Operations”

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China launched its second space lab, Tiangong-2, on Thursday, paving the way for a permanent space station that the country plans to build around 2022. In a space science first, a human brain-computer interaction test system, developed by Tianjin University, has been installed in the lab and it is set to conduct a series of experiments in space, People’s Daily reported. According to Ming Dong, the leader of the research team in charge of the brain-computer test system, the brain-computer interaction will eventually be the highest form of human-machine communication.


“The brain-computer interaction test system in Tiangong-2 boasts 64 national patents. The research team has long been devoted to the research of brain-computer interactions, previously developing two idiodynamic artificial neuron robotic systems. 

 

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The leader of the team suggested that it could also help Tiangong-2 astronauts to more readily accomplish their assigned tasks, transmiting the astronauts’ thoughts into operations, while at the same time observing their neurological functions.

Tiangong-2 will link with Shenzhou-11 manned spaceship, which will be launched later in October. Also piggybacking on the Tiangong-2 launch is a micro satellite that will orbit close to the space lab –its purpose has not been reported. The mission is part of China’s ambitious space program to build a permanent manned space station around year 2022.

With the sound of rolling thunder on the vast Gobi dessert, Tiangong-2 space lab blasted off into space propelled by its Long March 2F carrier rocket, shortly after 10pm last Thursday. In just 585 seconds, Tiangong-2 was placed in an orbit about 393 kilometers above the Earth.

The Shenzhou-11 spaceship will ferry two astronauts to dock with the lab and stay in space for 30 days to conduct a range of scientific experiments covering areas such as fundamental physics, biology, fluid mechanics in micro gravity and aerospace medicine. More than 40 space science and application experiments will be conducted aboard Tiangong-2.

Once inside Tiangong-2, the two astronauts will carry out key experiments related to aerospace medicine, space physics and biology as well as on-orbit equipment repairs in areas such as quantum key transmission, space atomic clock and solar storm research.

“The number of experiments carried by Tiangong-2 is the highest so far of all manned space missions,” said Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office. Its payload includes POLAR, a collaboration between Swiss, Polish and Chinese institutions to study gamma ray bursts. The space cold atomic clock, which scientists say only loses one second about every 30 million years, is expected to make future mobile navigation more accurate.

Many experiments are at the very forefront of space science exploration, and one of them is the world’s first in-space cold atomic clock, used to improve time measurements to the equivalent of one second every 30 million years, and will also result in improvements in navigation accuracy.

As a major breakthrough in the “three step strategy” proposed by Chinese scientists toward the goal of building a permanent manned space station, the Tiangong2 is expected to further boost the development of China’s space exploration.

The Daily Galaxy via People’s Daily, cri.cn and xinhuanet.com

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