China is Building the World’s Largest Radio Telescope
For about 45 years, the 1000 foot diameter radio telescope at Arecibo has been the largest in the world (also known as that radio telescope they used in Goldeneye). Now China has something bigger planned.
They call if FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope…I wonder how that translates?) and is is being built by the National Astronomical Observatories. It will have a similar design, built into a natural depression. It’s collecting area will be about 2.5 times that of Arecibo. The telescope will not be able to move. By moving the receiver, they can observe anything within 40 degrees of vertical.
The telescope will observe in frequencies from 70Mhz (a little below the FM band) up to 3gigaherz (a little above our typical microwave oven’s 2.4Ghz).
As the Chinese embark on this project, Arecibo is fighting for survival. It must find more external funding sources to survive due to National Science Foundation budget cuts. It is still a great facility and can do cutting edge research with proper instrumentation.
China has already taken the lead over the U.S. in manufacturing…I shudder to think what will happen if they take over the lead in science research. You might think who cares if they take over the lead in astronomy, but they have their eyes on other scientific fields as well so we had better get our act together.
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