Space scientists from the mainland take a group photo with students from Queen's College in Hong Kong, south China, June 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
Space scientists from the mainland were overwhelmed by interesting questions from students during their visits to six primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong on Friday.
"Why do spaceships shine brightly when returning to Earth?" a girl in the fifth grade asked in a childish voice in the Q&A session of a lecture delivered by Long Lehao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and chief designer of Long March rockets, at the assembly hall of Pui Kiu College.
Praising her courage to ask the first question, Long gave his answer patiently.
"This is because the spacecraft returning to Earth at a very fast speed rubs with the surrounding atmosphere. The friction generates heat and is likely to cause burning. There will also be a crackling sound, like someone knocking on the spacecraft," Long said, also wishing her to study hard and make progress.
A boy seized the opportunity to ask another question: "Does the sun look brighter from outer space than from Earth? If so, how can astronauts look outside (the spaceship)?"
If it is too dazzling, astronauts will use protective gear, Long smiled and said.
"You can also do a little bit more research yourself. I'm not an astronaut. If you become an astronaut one day and go to space, that experience will make you see (the question) more clearly," he said.
At the CCC Heep Woh College, Hu Hao, the chief designer of the third stage of the national lunar exploration program, was also bombarded with tonnes of questions. "What to do with space junk?" "Are there any plans to drill for new energy sources on the moon?"
Responding to a question on the spirit of space researchers, Hu highlighted the importance of teamwork and said people must cooperate, be innovative and have the ability to persevere in a bid to push forward space technology.
Qi Faren (L), a Chinese Academy of Engineering academician and former chief designer for Shenzhou spaceships, talks to students from Queen's College in Hong Kong, south China, June 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
At Queen's College, a related question was raised by Tse Sze-kei, a middle school student, for Qi Faren, a CAE academician and former chief designer for Shenzhou spaceships.
"What qualities and abilities that Hong Kong students should possess if they want to join the national space industry? What contribution can they make?" Tse asked.
"It's a very good question ... and that is a good aspiration for Hong Kong students," Qi, 88, said. "There are two requirements. The first is the love for this career and the other is good preparation, like to learn the basic knowledge well."
At Po Leung Kuk Ho Yuk Ching College, Xie Jun, chief designer of the BDS-3 satellite system, gave a speech with an attractive slide show about China's achievements in space technology including BDS satellites, which students just could not take their eyes off.
Students from Po Leung Kuk Ho Yuk Ching College listen to a lecture given by space scientists in Hong Kong, south China, June 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)
Xie said he hopes to sow a seed of love for science and wishes students become talent in scientific and technological development and make contributions to the nation.
Two other scientists, Zhang He, executive director of the Chang'e-4 probe project, and Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars probe, also joined students on campuses of St. Teresa Secondary School and Diocesan Boys' School, respectively.
Friday's events were part of a series of activities starting Wednesday where top space scientists of the country went to Hong Kong universities and middle schools to give lectures and meet students. They will also witness the inauguration of a lunar soil exhibition slated for Saturday.