China has launched two microsatellites into a lunar transfer orbit. They launched as secondary payloads with the Quequiao relay satellite on May 20, in conjunction with the Chang’e 4 mission to the far side of the moon. Once in lunar orbit, DSLWP-A1 and DSLWP-A2 (DSLWP = Discovering the Sky at Longest Wavelengths Pathfinder) — also known as Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2 — will test low-frequency radio astronomy and space-based interferometry. They carry Amateur Radio and educational payloads, but not a transponder. The Chang’e 4 mission will be the first-ever attempt at a soft landing on the far side of the moon.
Following deployment, signals from the DSLWP satellites were received by radio amateurs in Brazil, Chile, and the US, as well as by many others around the world. Harbin Institute of Technology (BY2HIT) developed and built the DSLWP spacecraft and is overseeing that mission. The two microsats eventually will enter a 300 × 9,000 kilometer elliptical orbit. Each satellite carries VHF/UHF SDR transceivers for beacon, telemetry, telecommand, and digital image downlink, plus a GMSK-JT4 repeater. Onboard transmitting power is about 2 W.
The astronomy objectives of the two spacecraft are to observe the sky at the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum — 1 MHz to 30 MHz — with the aim of learning about energetic phenomena from galactic sources, using the moon to shield them from earthbound radio signals.