China has built world’s largest radio telescope nicknamed Tianyan (Heavenly Eye” or “The Eye of Heaven) or the five-hundred-metre aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST).
It has started its operation and is part of China’s drive to become a science powerhouse. It is located in the Dawodang depression (vast natural crater), a natural basin in Pingtang County in the Guizhou Province, Southwest China.
- With its opening, the intensive testing phase of the telescope will begin. It will take nearly three years to calibrate the instruments of telescope to become fully operational.
- The facility is part of China’s drive to become a science powerhouse. It is an ambitious project of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.
- It is the world’s largest filled aperture (single dish) radio telescope and the second largest radio telescope after the Russian RATAN-600, which has a sparsely filled aperture.
- It is made up of 4,450 panels and has reflector as large as 30 football pitches. It has 500 meters diameter, giving it more sensitivity.
- It will be used to search for signs of intelligent life and to observe distant pulsars – tiny, rapidly spinning neutron stars believed to be the products of supernova explosions.
- It will be also used to study stellar radio emissions, gravitational waves and potentially signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
- China’s best supercomputers the SkyEye-1 will be used to process the massive amounts of data supplied by FAST.