Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

After the collapse of the Arecibo Telescope, China is opening its world largest Radio Telescope for international scientists. The World second largest Arecibo Observatory collapsed in Puerto Rico after the 900-tonne receiver platform became loose and plunged 140-metres onto the radio dish below. With this, China recently announced that it is open its world largest Five Hundred Metre Aperture Spherical Telescope to international scientists

Five Hundred Metre Aperture Spherical Telescope

  • The construction of FAST was completed in 2016. The telescope was built at a cost 175 million USD. It displaced thousands of villagers.
  • It is located in the Dawodang depression. The Dawodang depression is a natural basin in Guizhou, southwest China.
  • It is the largest filled-aperture Radio Telescope and second largest single dish aperture. The RATA-600 in Russia is the world largest Single-dish aperture telescope.
  • The telescope has a reflecting surface of 500-metres in diameter. However, only a circle of 300 metres diameter can be used at one time.
  • It is located in a natural sinkhole. A sinkhole is formed due to erosion.
  • It has super sensitivity to detect cosmic phenomena. This includes radio bursts and pulsars as well.
  • It is also known as the “Eye of Heaven” or Tianyan.

What are the Science Objectives of FAST?

The science objectives of FAST are as follows

  • Pulsar Observations.
  • Large Scale Neutral Hydrogen survey
  • Detection of Interstellar molecules
  • Pulsar Timing Arrays
  • Detecting Interstellar Communication signals
  • Leading International very long baseline interferometry network

Data Storage

The only problem faced by the Chinese scientists in regard to FAST is the challenge of storing the data collected by FAST. The solution is to be provided by Australia and European Union. The Next Generation Archive System developed by the European Southern Observatory and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy in Perth, Australia will store and maintain large amount of data collected by FAST.

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