Will China’s new laser satellite be able to detect and track deep-diving submerged submarines?


Chinese scientists are working on a laser satellite device they hope will be able to detect the location of a submerged submarine target located as far as 1,600 feet below the ocean surface from space. 

It is the latest addition to China’s expanding deep-sea surveillance program, and aside from targeting submarines -- most submerged submarines operate at a depth of less than 1,600 feet -- it also could collect data on the world’s oceans.

Project Guanlan, meaning “watching the big waves," officially was launched in May at the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology in Qingdao, China, southeast of Beijing. It aims to strengthen China’s surveillance activities in the world’s oceans, according to the laboratory’s Website.

Scientists are working on the satellite’s design at the laboratory, but its key components are being developed by more than 20 research institutes and universities across the country. Song Xiaoquan, a researcher involved in the project to detect submarines from space, said if the team can develop the satellite as planned, it will make the upper layer of the sea “more or less transparent."