Rush for resources drives China’s ‘three-deep’ science quest (South China Morning Post – October 5, 2016)

Beijing has made it its mission to go deeper on land and sea or farther into space than was thought possible

China’s growing demand for scarce land and resources are just two reasons why it is pushing ahead with its space programme.

The Ministry of Land and ­Resources’ new five-year ­programme released last month identified deep space exploration as one of its “three-deep” strategies to help secure the country’s resources needs – the other two being deep-sea and deep-underground exploration.

China will have 27 satellites for terrestrial surveying and scientific research by 2020. The spacecraft will play major roles in land management, ­mineral deposit exploration and disaster relief. More than 90 per cent of the remote sensing satellites should be domestically produced, the ministry said in the plan.

With the help of the satellites, Beijing will be able to set up a cloud platform for global geographical data, which will provide information support for China’s economic and defence work as well as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. A broader space programme also involves exploring the moon and Mars as well as pushing forward China’s manned space projects.

In the underground field, China will be able to mine from 2km beneath the ground and ­detect mineral deposits located at a depth of 3km by 2020. The country will also explore oil and natural gas located at between 6.5km and 10km underground.

The tasks require scientists to make a number of high-tech breakthroughs including high-precision sensors and data-mining software, according to the five-year plan.

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