2020-07 24
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Mars 101 with Beijing Planetarium director



If you are interested in space exploration, you must have heard of the three recent missions to Mars: UAE's Hope, NASA's Perseverance, and China's first-ever Mars mission, the Tianwen-1. As compared to our home Earth and the Moon, we know very little about Mars. So CGTN took a tour at Beijing Planetarium to learn about the Red Planet with its Honorary Director Zhu Jin. Basic facts of Mars: - Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. Earth is the third. - Mars is about half the size of Earth. Its gravity is about 38 percent that of Earth and its mass about 11 percent of Earth. - Mars has the highest mountain in the solar system – Olympus Mons, 21,229 meters in height. - Atmosphere on Mars consists of mostly carbon dioxide and some water vapor. - Average temperature on Mars is about -62 degree Celsius. - Like the Moon and Earth, Mars has two Martian moons – Phobos and Deimos. A second home for human beings? Scientists have been saying that Mars has the potential to be a second home for human beings. Zhu told CGTN that there are similarities between Earth and Mars, such as gravity. "Mars also has about 24 hours per day," he illustrated. "Because its rotational inclination is similar to Earth, it has four seasons like Earth too." But the expert thinks it's too early for us to talk about living on Mars. "The differences (between Earth and Mars) are more important, such as its atmosphere and magnetic field," Zhu said. Multiple researches have shown there's liquid water on the Red Planet. "We believe that there used to be an ocean, not just water but also a large ocean," Zhu explained. "If there is liquid water now ... We know that anywhere on Earth there is liquid water there is life." Zhu said the possibility of life on Mars can't be eliminated, but adding that if there are, they must be a smaller organism compared to human beings. Source:CGTN Author:CGTN Date:July 24, 2020

2020-07 04
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China's FAST telescope detects extragalactic neutral hydrogen



In a significant astronomical breakthrough, scientists have detected the neutral hydrogen line emission from extragalactic galaxies for the first time, with the help of the world's largest radio telescope, which could help enrich the understanding of dark matter. An international team led by the South America Center for Astronomy under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) worked on the research, analyzing data obtained by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST). The study of extragalactic neutral hydrogen detection is one of the most important scientific goals of the gigantic telescope. Scientists detected the neutral hydrogen line emission from three extragalactic galaxies using the FAST 19-beam receiver with only five minutes of exposure. This detection shows the extraordinary sensitivity of the telescope. The research outcomes were recently published in the international journal Astronomy and Astrophysics Letter. Cheng Cheng, first author of the research, said neutral hydrogen gas is the most extended baryon in galaxies. "With measurements of neutral hydrogen and carbon monoxide, scientists can estimate the dynamical mass of galaxies at different radii, and they can further study the distributions of baryons and dark matter," said Cheng, also a CAS researcher. Although scientists have obtained a substantial amount of data, more observations are still needed. The team is going to apply for more FAST observation time to further study the neutral hydrogen properties, Cheng said. FAST is located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in southwest China's Guizhou Province. It began formal operation on January 11, 2020, after passing a national assessment. Dark matter is an invisible component of the universe. It is one of the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy. Source:CGTN Author:CGTN Date:July 4, 2020

2020-06 28
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China's Changqing Oilfield to produce 63 mln tons of oil equivalent in 2025



PetroChina Changqing Oilfield Company, a subsidiary of China's top oil and gas producer PetroChina, is expected to produce 63 million tons of oil equivalent of crude oil and natural gas in 2025. Last year, its oil and gas output reached 57.03 million tons of oil equivalent, the seventh consecutive year that production reached the 50-million-ton level, said Fu Suotang, general manager of PetroChina Changqing Oilfield Company. From 2016 to 2018, China's crude oil production fell for three years in a row, and its imported oil accounted for over 70 percent of the total national demand. Chinese President Xi Jinping gave instructions on "vigorously enhancing exploration and development efforts to ensure national energy security."  At the beginning of 2019, China's three state-owned energy giants, including Sinopec, CNPC and CNOOC, launched a seven-year plan to increase oil reserves and production. VCG The oil and gas fields of Changqing Oilfield cover Shaanxi, Gansu and Shanxi provinces as well as the Ningxia Hui and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions. The huge amount of crude oil and natural gas produced since the firm's establishment in 1970 has played an important role in safeguarding the country's energy security. The company has applied new technologies to boost production and extend the life cycle of crude oil and natural gas wells. Changqing Oilfield has so far sent over 420 billion cubic meters of natural gas to more than 40 large and medium-sized Chinese cities including Beijing and Xi'an, helping reduce carbon emissions by around 600 million tons, Fu said. Source:CGTN Author:CGTN Date:June 28, 2020

2020-06 17
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China's anti-desertification drive continues with positive results



Editor's note: Rachana Gupta is an Indian blogger, poet and freelance writer based in Shanghai. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily views of CGTN. Launched in 1994, the United Nations' World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on June 17, to create awareness on combating expanding desertification worldwide. Desertification is the process of degradation of once fertile land into arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas. The main reason for desertification is attributed to overexploitation and inappropriate usage of land areas through deforestation, overgrazing, and substandard irrigation practices. This year's observance, themed "Food. Feed. Fiber" will focus on educating the masses towards efficient production planning, sustainable practices, and responsible consumption. According to the United Nations, land degradation has impacted almost a third of the Earth's arable land in the last 40 years, a landmass of nearly half the size of European Union (4.18 million square kilometres) with Africa and Asia being the worst affected regions because of the destitution and high density of population. Notably, similar to the rest of the world, China has also been facing the negative impact of proliferating land degradation. The country has lost almost 24 percent of its land area to the encroaching desert since the 1950s. As per National Geographic, the Gobi Desert, famously known as "The Yellow Dragon," has expanded by more than 385,000 square miles, the area equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined since then. Additionally, according to a study published by MDPI in April, this year, entitled "Desertification Control Practices in China," the country suffers the desertification-induced economic loss of almost 6.8 billion U.S. dollars annually. The problem is mostly the result of overgrazing by livestock, which dramatically exposes the topsoil to direct sunlight and heat. This exposure significantly shrinks the land's capability to retain moisture content and eventually degrade it to an arid piece of land. To surmount this issue, China has taken several steps which are yielding encouraging outcomes so far. For instance, in 1978, the country commenced a gigantic anti-desertification drive entitled the "Great Green Wall" to construct a massive wall of trees bordering the Gobi Desert to contain its expansion significantly. As per the layout, the project, post-completion in 2050, will cover an enormous landmass of about 4500 km in length. This colossal plantation program will help China to expand the forest cover in north significantly from five to 15 percent. Since the commencement of this project, more than 66 billion trees have been planted in the region, with almost 13 million hectares (an area the size of Greece) of trees planted in only the last few years. Additionally, several laws have also been formulated in the nation in the early 2000s to facilitate the environmental protection initiatives and transformation of degraded land into farms and grasslands. Apart from the government, Chinese tech giants like Alibaba are also taking significant initiatives to fight the increasing desertification in the country. Alipay (Alibaba's virtual payment platform), through its app, Ant Forest, in the past few years, has promoted the low-carbon and energy-saving lifestyle among its users. The app allows users to select from different low-carbon activities in their daily lives, like limiting the consumption of paper and plastic, using digital payment options for settlement of utility bills, or traveling in a green way by taking public transportation or bicycles instead of personal cars or cabs. The company, against each green activity of the users, allocates green energy points to the users, which they can use to grow a virtual tree in the app. Once the virtual tree grows to a certain level, the company, together with its philanthropic partners, plants a real tree in the country's most arid regions. Ant Forest even allows its users to view their trees in real-time via satellite. So far, Ant Forest has managed to attract more than 500 million users, with about 122 million trees planted as a result of this initiative. In June 2017, China, along with UNCCD, launched a Joint Action Initiative (JAI) with the intent to combat desertification, restore already degraded land, and alleviate the effects of drought in the regions along the Silk Road. JAI is also linked with the 2030 global target of achieving land degradation neutrality under UNCCD's Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative, through fighting desertification, also aims to alleviate poverty and improve the livelihoods of masses in the region. Under this initiative, China plans to cooperate with other nations in controlling desertification through technology sharing and professional training. Notably, China has already managed to reduce the desert area at home by 2,424 square kilometres per year during the past decade. As per the nation's Forestry Administration's monitoring report, the desert area in the country has continually shrunk from 1999 to 2014. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD's executive secretary, had also praised China's achievements in this direction, mainly in the severely affected regions, including Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province. He hoped that China would continue to share its experiences and practices with other nations of the world. Therefore, by looking at the overall commitment of the Chinese government, and the aggressive measures of the country in this direction, it seems that China will continue to produce a remarkable result by braving the challenges brought through desertification. Also, it could effectively provide valuable learning experiences to other nations of the world to carry out their anti-desertification drives. Source:CGTN Author:CGTN Date:June 17, 2020

2020-06 02
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UPDATE 1-China says sticking to climate pledges despite coronavirus outbreak



* China to ‘100%’ fulfil NDC under Paris climate accord -ministry * Researchers warned post-virus stimulus could put pledges at risk (Adds quote, background) BEIJING, June 2 (Reuters) - China will fully implement its commitment to nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on climate change under the Paris climate agreement despite the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s environment ministry said on Tuesday. China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouses gases, pledged to cut “carbon intensity” - the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP - by 40-45% from 2005-2020 as part of the Paris pact it signed in 2015. It said last year it would set a more ambitious target, without giving figures. However, government researchers and analysts have warned that China may struggle to meet its climate pledges this year as it turns to heavy industry and carbon-intensive projects to shore up its coronavirus-stricken economy. “China’s carbon emission reduction will not change with the occurrence of the epidemic,” Liu Youbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a monthly press conference in Beijing, adding that China would “100%” fulfil its NDC commitment. China cut its carbon intensity by 4.1% in 2019 from the previous year, according to environment ministry data. Speaking at the ministry’s first offline briefing since January, Liu also said China would submit a progress report on its NDC on schedule, along with further plans based on the Paris accord.  Source: Reuters Author: (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Raju Gopalakrishnan) Date: JUNE 2, 2020