China plans to launch its first satellite to test the technologies of the space-based gravitational wave detection programme "Tianqin" by the end of 2019.
The programme Tianqin, meaning "harp in sky," was initiated by Sun Yat-sen University in south China's Guangdong province in 2015. It will consist of three satellites forming an equilateral triangle around the earth, reports Xinhua news agency.
"It's like a harp in space. If the gravitational waves come, the 'harp's strings" will be plucked," said Luo Jun, President of the Sun Yat-sen University and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, at a conference held in Guangzhou.
The detection will be based on high-precision laser interferometry technology to measure the changes of the distances and locations of the three satellites, according to Luo.
Gravitational waves are "ripples" in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.