China starts assembling world's biggest radio telescope

July 24, 2015
Illustration. China has started assembling the world's largest radio telescope, which will have a dish the size of 30 football p
Illustration. China has started assembling the world's largest radio telescope, which will have a dish the size of 30 football pitches when completed, state media reports

China has started assembling the world's largest radio telescope, which will have a dish the size of 30 football pitches when completed, state media reported as Beijing steps up its ambitions in outer space.

The five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) nestles in a bowl-shaped valley between hills in the southwestern province of Guizhou, images posted online show.

Technicians began attaching 4,450 triangular-shaped panels to the telescope's reflector on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

FAST will be the world's largest single-aperture telescope, it said, overtaking the Arecibo Observatory in the US territory of Puerto Rico, which is 305 metres (1000 feet) in diameter.

For years Chinese scientists have relied on "second hand" data collected by others in their research and the new telescope is expected to "greatly enhance" the country's capacity to observe outer space, Xinhua said.

"Having a more sensitive telescope, we can receive weaker and more distant radio messages," it cited Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying.

"It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe."

Beijing is accelerating its military-run multi-billion-dollar space exploration programme, which it sees as a symbol of the country's progress. It has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.

The dish will have a perimeter of about 1.6 kilometres, Xinhua said, and there are no towns within five kilometres, giving it ideal surroundings to listen for signals from space.

The region's karst topography—a landscape of porous rock fissured with deep crevasses and underground caves and streams—is ideal for draining rainwater and protecting the reflector, it added.

Construction on the telescope started in March 2011 and is scheduled to finish next year, Xinhua said.

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14 comments

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gordonalexander
5 / 5 (4) Jul 24, 2015
WTF is a football pitch? Why not tell us how big it is in furlongs?
gkam
4 / 5 (4) Jul 24, 2015
I am waiting for the immense radio telescope on the back side of the Moon, shielded from the noise of Earth..

I'll have to be patient.
adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (2) Jul 24, 2015
WTF is a football pitch? Why not tell us how big it is in furlongs?


Its about yay big.
Returners
1 / 5 (4) Jul 24, 2015
I wonder if they'll be as forthcoming with their data as NASA and ESA have been with ours?

It's no wonder China is starting to over-take us in key exploratory ventures, they own half our debt. The interest alone which we owe them every year can fund their entire space program like chump-change.
Returners
1 / 5 (4) Jul 24, 2015
Can't be beaten by the "commies" right?

The U.S. should build a giant array of radio telescopes, with a large dish about every few miles along all national borders, and along all state borders in the interior. It'd have the best resolution ever.

Most of all, we need orbiting radio telescopes around Earth orbit and Lunar orbit for maximum resolution. Russia is beating the U.S. in that category too.
big_hairy_jimbo
not rated yet Jul 24, 2015
Love this article. Arecibo given as 305m DIAMETER and the chinese dish given as 1.6km PERIMETER. Would have been nice to state oranges and oranges.

Anyway, if you consider that c = 2 * pie * r, then you can calc the radius, double that for the diameter so we can then have our oranges.

Given 1.6km perimeter (lets call it the circumference) then that places the Chinese dish at apx 510m diameter.

Please correct me if I have made incorrect assumptions.
antigoracle
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2015
WTF is a football pitch? Why not tell us how big it is in furlongs?

Alrighty, here yer go - http://lmgtfy.com...ll+pitch
Vietvet
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 24, 2015
"According to the U.S. Treasury Department, at the end of August 2014, more than a third of the debt was owned by foreign countries (34.4%). The largest foreign holders of U.S. debt were Mainland China (7.2%) and Japan (7.0%)"

http://www.forbes...-s-debt/

@Returners

Don't feel too bad over your ignorance, you were just echoing what comes from faux news and similar right wing media.
shavera
5 / 5 (7) Jul 24, 2015
big hairy jimbo.... It's called the " five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope" for a reason.
big_hairy_jimbo
5 / 5 (3) Jul 25, 2015
Thanks Shavera, I think I need to practice READING a bit more. I completely missed that in the article :-)
Graeme
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2015
This should be able to be pointed between -15 and +65 degrees north and cover a lot more sky than Arecibo.
docile
Jul 25, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Gigel
not rated yet Jul 27, 2015
It would be about 2.5 furlongs side-to-side if you take the opposite sides on the greatest length that be.
mrego
not rated yet Sep 17, 2015
so roughly 10 hectares?

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