Chinese scientists have announced three gravitational wave detection projects to build on the findings of LIGO. The proposals include plans for observatories in space and on the ground, and possibly investment in the European Space Agency’s eLISA efforts.
One of these efforts is the Taiji project, a proposal for a space observatory by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Science, which will be submitted to China’s science and technology authorities by the end of 2016. No details have been revealed on how the spacecraft would work though.
In an interview with China Daily, Hu Wenrui, a prominent physicist in China and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "If we launch our own satellites, we will have a chance to be a world leader in gravitational wave research in the future. If we just participate in the eLISA project, it will also greatly boost China’s research capacity in space science and technology."
As for the other two proposals, one is the also under-wraps Tianqin space observatory project, developed by the Sun Yat-sen University in Southern China. The other is the ground-based Ali, also by the Chinese Academy of Science, which aims to look at gravitational waves from the Big Bang itself. If these go ahead, China could potentially become a major player in the observation of gravitational waves.
People's Daily, China's flagship newspaper, published an article by Wang Yifang, head of the Institute of High Energy Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, asking for more support. He argued that rigid regulation has hampered the progress of science, and it was time to encourage the Chinese government to invest in the field after last week’s discovery by LIGO.
"We are using the new discovery as a way to inspire our own domestic work," he said. "The next 30 years will be a key period for China's development in science and technology. Therefore, more should be done to update the sci-tech research system in China."