China’s 500 Meter FAST Radio Telescope to be World’s Largest

By: | January 2nd, 2016

The Chinese National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with funding from China’s National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), is building the world’s largest radio telescope known as FAST, or Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope. The project is expected to be complete in 2016.

The Chinese are building yet another massive construction project, this time, a scientific instrument that will be used to detect radio signals from outer space. According to scientists working on the project, FAST will be capable of detecting radio signals from tens of billions of light-years away. According to Nan Rendong, FAST’s chief scientist, “a radio telescope is like a sensitive ear, listening to tell meaningful radio messages from white noise in the universe. It is like identifying the sound of two Cadiz in a thunderstorm.”

FAST is being built in a large depression with a diameter of about 800 m that lies about 170 km from Guiyang in Guizhou Province. The location has favorable conditions, including an average annual temperature of 15°C, annual rainfall averaging from 1,100 to 1,300 millimeters, sunshine duration of about 1,300 hours, a frost-free period of 270 days, and cloudy skies for 150 days per year.

The following video shows the FAST Radio Telescope under construction:

David Russell Schilling

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