China is massively expanding its weather-modification program, saying it will be able to cover half the country in artificial rain and snow by 2025



a group of people walking in a city: People on the Bund in Shanghai, China. Yang Jianzheng/VCG via Getty Images


© Yang Jianzheng/VCG via Getty Images
People on the Bund in Shanghai, China. Yang Jianzheng/VCG via Getty Images

  • China’s government has announced that it is expanding its weather-control project, which creates artificial rain and snow, by fivefold.
  • The State Council said Tuesday the project will soon cover 2.1 million square miles and be ready by 2025. That is about 56% of China’s entire surface area.
  • China is one of dozens of countries using “cloud seeding” to try and manufacture good weather conditions for crops or to prevent natural disasters.
  • “Cloud seeding” involves spraying chemicals like silver iodide or liquid nitrogen into clouds, where water droplets condense and fall.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China is massively expanding its weather-control project, and is aiming to be able to cover half the country in artificial rain and snow by 2025, the government said Tuesday.

The practice of “cloud seeding” was discovered in the US in 1946 by a chemist working for General Electric. China launched its own similar program in the 1960s.

Dozens of other countries – including the US – also have such programs, but Beijing has the world’s largest, employing around 35,000 people, The Guardian reported.

In a statement, China’s State Council said that the country’s cloud seeing project will expand fivefold to cover an area of 2.1 million square miles and be completed by 2025. (China encompasses 3.7 million square miles, meaning the project could cover 56% of the country’s surface area.)

The project will be at a “worldwide advanced level” by 2035, the State Council said, and will help alleviate “disasters such as drought and hail” and facilitate emergency responses “to forest or grassland fires.”



a group of people standing in front of a building: People visit the Forbidden City during a blue sky summer day on August 29, 2019 in Beijing, China. Getty


© Getty
People visit the Forbidden City during a blue sky summer day on August 29, 2019 in Beijing, China. Getty

Generating artificial rain and snow is fairly simple in principle. Spraying chemicals like silver iodide or liquid nitrogen into clouds can make water droplets condense, and fall as rain or snow.

China launched a localized cloud seeding project in Beijing shortly before the 2008 Olympics, which it said successfully forced anticipated rains to fall before the event started.

In June 2016, China allocated $30 million to its cloud seeding project, and started firing bullets filled with salt and minerals into the sky.

A year later, China spent $168 million on a huge supply of equipment to facilitate the project, including four aircraft and “897 rocket launchers,” The Guardian said.

As Business Insider previously reported, China’s Ministry of Finance wanted to use cloud seeding to create at least 60 billion cubic meters of additional rain every year by 2020.

In January 2019, state media reported that cloud seeding tactics in the western region of Xinjiang had prevented crops from 70% of hail damage.

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China turns on nuclear-powered ‘artificial sun’

The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China's largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device and can reach tempera
The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius

China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, state media reported Friday, marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.


The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.

It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, according to the People’s Daily—approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.

Located in southwestern Sichuan province and completed late last year, the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” on account of the enormous heat and power it produces.

“The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way to solve China’s strategic energy needs, but also has great significance for the future sustainable development of China’s energy and national economy,” said the People’s Daily.

Chinese scientists have been working on developing smaller versions of the nuclear fusion reactor since 2006.

They plan to use the device in collaboration with scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor—the world’s largest nuclear fusion research project based in France, which is expected to be completed in 2025.

Fusion is considered the Holy Grail of energy and is what powers our sun.

It merges atomic nuclei to create massive amounts of energy—the opposite of the fission process used in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants, which splits them into fragments.

Unlike fission, fusion emits no greenhouse gases and carries less risk of accidents or the theft of atomic material.

But achieving fusion is both extremely difficult and prohibitively expensive, with the total cost of ITER estimated at $22.5 billion.


China’s quest for clean, limitless energy heats up


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China spacecraft is returning to Earth with moon samples in a first for the country

  • A Chinese spacecraft carrying lunar samples has blasted off from the moon and is preparing to come back to earth.
  • It’s the first time China has launched a spacecraft from an extraterrestrial body and the first time it has collected moon samples.
  • If the moon samples make it back to earth, China will be only the third country to retrieve lunar samples after the efforts by the U.S. and Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.



a store front at night: The Long March 5 rocket carrying Chang'e 5 is seen on the launch pad at the Wenchang Space Launch Site on Hainan. The 8.2-tonne Change 5 probe, which consists of a lander, an ascender, a service module and a return capsule, is the sixth mission of the Chinese lunar exploration programme Change. The goal of the mission is to collect lunar soil and rock samples from Oceanus Procellarum and bring them back to the Earth. If successful, Change 5 will be the first sample-return mission since the 1976.


© Provided by CNBC
The Long March 5 rocket carrying Chang’e 5 is seen on the launch pad at the Wenchang Space Launch Site on Hainan. The 8.2-tonne Change 5 probe, which consists of a lander, an ascender, a service module and a return capsule, is the sixth mission of the Chinese lunar exploration programme Change. The goal of the mission is to collect lunar soil and rock samples from Oceanus Procellarum and bring them back to the Earth. If successful, Change 5 will be the first sample-return mission since the 1976.

GUANGZHOU, China — A Chinese spacecraft carrying lunar samples has blasted off from the moon and is preparing to come back to Earth.

It’s the first time China has launched a spacecraft from an extraterrestrial body and the first time it has collected moon samples. If the moon samples make it back to Earth, China will be only the third country in the world to retrieve lunar samples after the efforts by the U.S. in the 1960s and the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

At 23:10 p.m. Beijing time on Thursday, the Chang’e-5 spacecraft took off from the moon, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The spacecraft was successfully launched into a pre-determined orbit around the moon.

The probe will meet with a return spacecraft to get back to Earth and is expected to land in China’s Inner Mongolia region around mid-December.

China has ramped up its space efforts in the last few years. President Xi Jinping urged the industry earlier this year to make China a “great space power as soon as possible,” according to state-backed China Daily. 

In June, China launched the final satellite to complete Beidou, its rival to the U.S. government-owned Global Positioning System (GPS), which is widely used across the world. 

And in July, China also launched an ambitious mission to Mars called Tianwen -1.

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China to expand weather modification program to cover 5.5 million square kilometers

China this week revealed plans to drastically expand an experimental weather modification program to cover an area of over 5.5 million square kilometers (2.1 million square miles) — more than 1.5 times the total size of India.



a couple of people that are standing in the snow: A worker fires rockets for cloud seeding in an attempt to make rain in Huangpi, China on May 10, 2011.


© AFP/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
A worker fires rockets for cloud seeding in an attempt to make rain in Huangpi, China on May 10, 2011.

According to a statement from the State Council, China will have a “developed weather modification system” by 2025, thanks to breakthroughs in fundamental research and key technologies, as well as improvements in “comprehensive prevention against safety risks.”

In the next five years, the total area covered by artificial rain or snowfall will reach 5.5 million sq km, while over 580,000 sq km (224,000 sq miles) will be covered by hail suppression technologies. The statement added that the program will help with disaster relief, agricultural production, emergency responses to forest and grassland fires, and dealing with unusually high temperatures or droughts.

China has long sought to control the weather to protect farming areas and to ensure clear skies for key events — it seeded clouds ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to reduce smog and avoid rain ahead of the competition. Key political meetings held in the Chinese capital are notorious for enjoying beautiful clear skies, thanks both to weather modification and the shutting down of nearby factories.

As a concept, cloud seeding has been around for decades. It works by injecting small amounts of silver iodide into clouds with a lot of moisture, which then condenses around the new particles, becoming heavier and eventually falling as precipitation.

A study funded by the US National Science Foundation, published earlier this year, found that “cloud seeding can boost snowfall across a wide area if the atmospheric conditions are favorable.” The study was one of the first to ascertain definitively that cloud seeding worked, as previously it had been difficult to distinguish precipitation created as a result of the practice from normal snowfall.

That uncertainty had not stopped China investing heavily in the technology: between 2012 and 2017, the country spent over $1.34 billion on various weather modification programs. Last year, according to state news agency Xinhua, weather modification helped reduce 70% of hail damage in China’s western region of Xinjiang, a key agricultural area.

And while other countries have also invested in cloud seeding, including the US, China’s enthusiasm for the technology has created some alarm, particularly in neighboring India, where agriculture is heavily dependent on the monsoon, which has already been disrupted and become less predictable as a result of climate change.

India and China recently faced off along their shared — and hotly disputed — border in the Himalayas, with the two sides engaging in their bloodiest clash in decades earlier this year. For years, some in India have speculated that weather modification could potentially give China the edge in a future conflict, given the importance of conditions to any troop movements in the inhospitable mountain region.

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China Moon Mission: Chang’e-5 Launches, Starting Trip Back to Earth

Two days after it landed on the moon, China’s Chang’e-5 mission is on its way again, blasting off back to space, the beginning of its journey back to Earth ferrying a bounty of soil and rocks for scientists to study.

The top half of the lander launched at 10:10 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, according to the China National Space Administration. Footage posted by Chinese state media showed the flash of the spacecraft’s engine as it headed to orbit, an ascent that took about six minutes.

It was the first time any spacecraft had launched from the lunar surface since the end of the Cold War moon race in 1976, and the first Chinese spacecraft to ever blast off from another world in the solar system.

The lander set down on Tuesday in a region of the moon known as Mons Rümker. The spacecraft was in the middle of a basalt lava plain that is about two billion years younger than the parts of the moon explored more than four decades ago by NASA’s Apollo astronauts and the Soviet Union’s robotic Luna landers. Images from the spacecraft show a desolate landscape with gentle rolling hills, a sign of its youth.

Within hours of arriving on the moon, Chang’e-5 set about drilling and scooping its lunar samples — perhaps more than four pounds.

Scientists are curious how this region remained molten far longer than the rest of the moon. Examination of these rocks in laboratories on Earth will also pin down their exact age, and that will calibrate a method that planetary scientists use to determine the ages of the surfaces of planets, moons and other bodies throughout the solar system.

The spacecraft’s departure is the first step in a complex sequence to return the rocks to Earth.

After it arrived in lunar orbit over the weekend, Chang’e-5 split into two. While the lander headed for the surface, the other half remained in orbit.

The ascent portion of the lander is to rendezvous and dock with the piece that remained in orbit. The rocks and soil will be transferred to a return capsule for a trip back to Earth, parachuting to a landing in Inner Mongolia later this month.

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China collects moon samples to study on Earth

“Chang’e has collected moon samples,” the agency said in a statement.

The probe, launched November 24 from the island of Hainan, is the latest venture by the space program that sent China’s first astronaut into orbit in 2003. Beijing also has a spacecraft headed to Mars and aims to land a human on the moon.

This week’s landing is “a historic step in China’s cooperation with the international community in the peaceful use of outer space,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

“China will continue to promote international cooperation and the exploration and use of outer space in the spirit of working for the benefit of all mankind,” Hua said.

Plans call for the lander to spend two days drilling into the lunar surface and collecting 4.4 pounds of rocks and debris. The top stage of the probe will be launched back into lunar orbit to transfer the samples to a capsule to take back to Earth, where it is to land in China’s northern grasslands in mid-December.

If it succeeds, it will be the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 probe in 1976.

The samples are expected to be made available to scientists from other nations, although it is unclear how much access NASA will have due to U.S. government restrictions on cooperation with China’s military-linked program.

From the rocks and debris, scientists hope to learn more about the moon, including its precise age, as well as increased knowledge about other bodies in our solar system. Collecting samples, including from asteroids, is an increasing focus of many space programs.

Chinese space program officials have said they envision future crewed missions along with robotic ones, including possibly a permanent research base. No timeline or other details have been announced.

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Watch China spacecraft land on the moon in this amazing video

A spectacular video from China’s Chang’e 5 lander spacecraft revealsits successful touchdown on the moon as it  softly set down to collect the first lunar samples in 44 years.



China's Chang'e 5 moon lander captures these views of its descent to the lunar surface on Dec. 1, 2020.


© Provided by Live Science
China’s Chang’e 5 moon lander captures these views of its descent to the lunar surface on Dec. 1, 2020.

The 49-second, sped-up video was captured by a camera underneath the Chang’e 5 lander as it passed over the vast Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”) while aiming for a safe landing site on Tuesday  (Dec. 1). The black-and-white footage shows peaks on the horizon before the spacecraft moves into a vertical position to begin its powered descent onto the surface. Another video, released by China’s CCTV news network, shows Chang’e 5’s sample-collection arm drilling into the lunar surface as it collected samples. (We combined them into one in the video above.)

In pictures: China on the moon! A history of Chinese lunar missions 

In the descent video, craters of all sizes appear and disappear as the lander slows its fall. With all of this taking place around 236,000 miles (380,000 kilometers) away and signals taking two seconds to travel from the Earth and back, the process needed to be automated. 

Chang’e 5 used a gamma ray altimeter to gauge the distance to the surface and optical and laser systems to detect potential hazards. The lander appears to hover as it selects its landing site and makes it final descent.

Related: The latest news about China’s space program 

The spacecraft launched on Nov. 23 and finally touched down safely Tuesday at 10:11 a.m. EST (1511GMT, 11:11 p.m. Beijing Time) near Mons Rümker, a volcanic peak. However the landing is only one part of a very challenging mission which aims to deliver the first fresh lunar samples to Earth since the 1970s.

The spacecraft began collecting samples within a couple of hours of landing, both scooping from the surface and drilling into the lunar regolith to obtain scientifically precious material.

 An ascent vehicle will launch the valuable cargo back into lunar orbit on Thursday in preparation to dock with the waiting Chang’e 5 orbiter. The orbiter will then carry the samples back towards Earth, releasing a reentry capsule that will enter the atmosphere and land around Dec.16.  

 If all goes well scientists will have the first new lunar samples in decades which potentially could be billions of years younger than those collected previously by Apollo and Soviet Luna missions.

The samples could help scientists understand why this area of the moon may have been geologically active long after volcanism in most other parts of the moon had ended.

Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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Shandong University Joins the Ranks of Prestigious Universities in China to Acquire Gale Scholar

Shandong University is one of the highest ranking universities in China, and one of the first members of Project 211 and Project 985, two state projects to support the development of the country’s best universities.

“Since its founding nearly 120 years ago, Shandong University has attached great importance to the research and study of western culture,” said Director Zhao Xingshen of Shandong University Library. “Gale’s primary sources gathered from many world-renowned institutions in Europe and America can support many disciplines with their wealth of content. Introducing these academic resources into our teaching and research activities will continue Shandong University’s academic tradition of disseminating its humanities and social sciences research to the world. Consequently, Gale Scholar is destined to have a positive and far-reaching impact. We are very pleased to join the community of Gale Scholar institutions in China and look forward to further collaboration with Gale.”

The Gale Scholar program enables Shandong University to enhance its current holdings with Gale Primary Sources, which have been core to the collection-building strategies of institutions in North America and Europe for many years. By granting immediate access to these collections, the Gale Scholar program supports the university’s mission to grow its research output, improve student outcomes and attract the best and brightest in their fields – both at the researcher and postgraduate levels.

“We’re delighted to welcome Shandong University to the Gale Scholar program,” said Terry Robinson, senior vice president and managing director of Gale International. “The university library’s decision to invest in the program reflects its ongoing commitment to foster world-leading research, while strengthening its position as a regional hub of learning.”

Gale Scholar provides Shandong University researchers with access to curated digital collections of books, maps, photographs, newspapers, periodicals and manuscripts from some of the world’s well-known libraries like: the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the British Library.

Acclaimed Gale Primary Sources series in the university’s program include:

The richness of this content is harnessed by powerful search technology that empowers researchers and students to discover new research connections through a single search environment. A newly launched Gale Scholar landing page in both English and Chinese further streamlines the researchers’ workflow, acting as a starting point into searching the collections. From the landing page, users can also access the Gale Digital Scholar Lab, a digital humanities tool which allows researchers the ability to text and data mine their Gale Primary Sources content. With access to world-class research materials and a tool to analyze those materials, Gale Scholar serves as Shandong University’s gateway to the digital humanities.

For more information, visit the Gale Scholar webpage.

About Cengage and Gale
Cengage is the education and technology company built for learners. The company serves the higher education, K-12, professional, library and workforce training markets worldwide. Gale, a Cengage company, provides libraries with original and curated content, as well as the modern

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China spacecraft collects moon samples to take back to Earth

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese spacecraft took samples of the moon’s surface Wednesday as part of a mission to bring lunar rocks back to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government said, adding to a string of successes for Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program.



In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a screen shows the landed Chang'e-5 spacecraft and a moon surface picture, below, taken by camera aboard Chang'e-5 spacecraft during its landing process, at Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. A Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP)


© Provided by Associated Press
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a screen shows the landed Chang’e-5 spacecraft and a moon surface picture, below, taken by camera aboard Chang’e-5 spacecraft during its landing process, at Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. A Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP)



In this image taken by camera aboard Chang'e 5 spacecraft provided by China National Space Administration, its shadow is reflected on the surface of the moon during its landing process on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (China National Space Administration via AP)


© Provided by Associated Press
In this image taken by camera aboard Chang’e 5 spacecraft provided by China National Space Administration, its shadow is reflected on the surface of the moon during its landing process on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (China National Space Administration via AP)

The Chang’e 5 probe touched down Tuesday on the Sea of Storms on the moon’s near side after descending from an orbiter, the China National Space Administration said. It released images of the barren landing site showing the lander’s shadow.

“Chang’e has collected moon samples,” the agency said in a statement.

The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical island of Hainan, is the latest venture by a space program that sent China’s first astronaut into orbit in 2003. Beijing also has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.

This week’s landing is “a historic step in China’s cooperation with the international community in the peaceful use of outer space,” said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.

“China will continue to promote international cooperation and the exploration and use of outer space in the spirit of working for the benefit of all mankind,” Hua said.

Plans call for the lander to spend two days drilling into the lunar surface and collecting 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and debris. The top stage of the probe will be launched back into lunar orbit to transfer the samples to a capsule to take back to Earth, where it is to land in China’s northern grasslands in mid-December.



This image taken by camera aboard Chang'e-5 spacecraft provided by China National Space Administration shows a moon surface during its landing process Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (China National Space Administration via AP)


© Provided by Associated Press
This image taken by camera aboard Chang’e-5 spacecraft provided by China National Space Administration shows a moon surface during its landing process Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (China National Space Administration via AP)

If it succeeds, it will be the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 probe in 1976.

The

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On the same day China landed a probe on the moon, the US’s massive telescope in Puerto Rico collapsed



Left: China National Space Administration Right: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images


© Left: China National Space Administration Right: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images
Left: China National Space Administration Right: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

  • On the same day that China collected lunar rocks in a groundbreaking space mission, a critical US telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapsed.
  • The observatory, built in 1963, was a beacon for US astronomical research, lasted through natural disasters, and inspired generations of Puerto Rican researchers.
  • China’s successful accomplishment with the Chang’e-5 probe is the first time since the 1970s that lunar samples have been collected, and if the spacecraft returns to Earth safely in mid-December, will mark a massive step forward in space exploration. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Tuesday, the United States and China experienced vastly different events in the world of space exploration and observation.

The Arecibo Observatory, a colossal telescope located in Puerto Rico, collapsed after deteriorating sharply since August. The Arecibo Observatory had been operating as a center for astronomical observations for 57 years. 

Meanwhile, far from the Earth’s atmosphere, the unmanned Chang’e-5 probe, a Chinese spacecraft, landed on the moon to bring lunar materials back to Earth for the first time in almost 50 years, the Chinese government announced.

China’s moon landing and retrieval of lunar rocks mark the first time a country has acquired sample materials from the moon since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976, according to NASA. 

US astronauts in NASA’s Apollo program last retrieved over 800 pounds of lunar samples between 1969 and 1972. 

Video: China successfully lands spacecraft on moon to retrieve lunar rocks (Reuters)

The two separate events on the same day show the stark contrast between China’s recent investment in space exploration and research and the US’s space efforts, which often have shifting budgets and priorities.

As Business Insider previously reported, there are myriad roadblocks to the US going back to the moon, including the cost of

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