By Liu Chang, Zhang Lixin, Guo Xin

The first space exploration satellite developed by Macao will be launched the next year, announced the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Science (SKLplanets), Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST), ahead of Macao’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of its return to China.

Aiming to measure the geomagnetic field and space environment of the South Atlantic Anomaly and study on dynamo theory, the satellite is expected to uncover the mystery of Bermuda Triangle that has perplexed the world for hundreds of years.

“It just comes too soon, which has gone beyond my imagination,” said Zhang Keke, director of the SKLplanets and chief scientist of this satellite project.

Zhang, a Fellow of American Geophysical Union and the Royal Astronomical Society in the UK, joined the SKLplanets last year. Three months after he went to Macao, he, on behalf of the SKLplanets, proposed to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to develop a scientific exploration satellite.

“My proposal was supported by the CNSA, and rounds of discussions were held. The plan was approved by experts in Feb. this year, and received assistance from the Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) three months later,” introduced Zhang, who has worked in the UK and the US for over three decades.

Astrophysics studies call for extremely high requirements on capital and talents, therefore the development of the satellite wouldn’t have been possible without the firm support from the central government and the government of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), or the SKLplanets program.

The SKLplanets is one of the state key laboratories approved by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology in Macao last year. Besides, Macao is also home to the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicines, the State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI and the State Key Laboratory of Internet of Things for Smart City.

These four state key laboratories were all built after Macao’s return to China, serving as a new high ground of the region’s scientific innovation and development.

MUST President Liu Liang noted that scientific innovation barely existed in Macao before its return to China, and it was after the return that the region has seen continuous improvement in this regard under the support of the nation and scientific research institutions from the mainland.

The state key laboratories in Macao carry the expectation of China for Macao’s scientific and technological development, and also symbolize a start of the region’s participation in the national scientific and technological progress.

“Human resources were what Macao needed the most after returning to the motherland,” said Ma Chi Ngai Frederico, President of FDCT’s Administrative Committee. Thanks to the continuous application of policy, law and capital assistance by the government of Macao SAR, batches of science and technology talents were nurtured.

In 2000, the Legislative Assembly of Macao approved the Basic Rules for Policies Regarding Science and Technology, setting the tone for future technological progress of the region. Four years later, the government of Macao SAR instituted the FDCT to assist scientific researches. This year, the organization’s assistance to local scientific studies made a record high of 535 million pataca ($66.4 million).

A 23-year-old Macao resident named Feng Xuejian recently registered an Internet company. He once competed in the WorldSkills Competition as a junior college student on behalf of Macao and won a gold medal in web design – the best performance achieved by Macao over the years.

“People used to say that in Macao, a man could not make a living by his interest, but things are different now as the region is building a better and better environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, where the young generation is able to achieve success through their skills and wisdom,” Feng said.

“A globally influential scientific innovation center will be built in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, where a Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao science and technology innovation corridor will prosper,” said Ma Chi Ngai Frederico, adding that Macao enjoys unique geographical and platform advantages on the west bank of the Pearl River.

Source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition