China now has world’s last giant, single-dish radio telescope

China now has world’s last giant, single-dish radio telescope
Noisy out there. Pixabay

[Ed. – We carried a headline on the loss of Puerto Rico’s Arecibo telescope earlier this week. Note that China’s telescope can’t replicate a key function of the Arecibo facility: detecting near-Earth asteroids.  The Puerto Rico telescope was the last line of defense on those, some of which have been approaching without any prior detection, and now it’s gone.]

There is now only one last remaining giant, single-dish, radio telescope in the world: China’s 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST).

Completed in 2016 and located in the Guizhou province of southwest China, the observatory cost $171 million and took about half a decade to build. Its sheer size allows it to detect faint radio-waves from pulsars and materials in galaxies far away; 300 of its 500-meter diameter can be used at any one time.

Experts say that in the next decade, FAST is expected to shine in terms of studying the origins of supermassive black holes or identifying faint radio waves to understand the characteristics of planets outside the solar system.

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In November, Chinese state media reported that in 2021, the FAST facility would become open to use for foreign scientists.

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