China approves advanced radio telescope project

Updated 2018-01-13 14:01:02 Xinhua

China is to have a new radio telescope to "listen" to the universe.

Proposed by the Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory, the world's largest fully steerable single-dish radio telescope will be built in Qitai County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The telescope will be 110 meters in diameter, over 100 meters tall and weigh around 6,000 tonnes. Scheduled to go into service in 2023, it will cover three-fourths of the sky.

"The antenna, the world's largest, will be able to trace the origins of any signals received," said Song Huagang of the Chinese Academy of Science Xinjiang observatory.

The telescope will operate at 150 MHz to 115 GHz and assist research on gravitational waves, black holes and dark matter.

The Xinjiang observatory is currently equipped with a 25-meter radio telescope. The new telescope will be roughly 20 times bigger.

The new site in Shihezi is a sparsely populated foothill of Tianshan Mountains in northeast Xinjiang. The mountain ranges surrounding the site will shield the telescope from electromagnetic noise.

Besides the planned telescope, China is already planning or working on impressive astronomical telescopes.

In 2016, the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, went into service in southwest China's Guizhou Province.

China's largest optical telescope, at 12 meters, is expected to be built in Tibet Autonomous Region. The project is included in China's large-scale sci-tech infrastructure plan for 2016 to 2020.

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