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).
However, it has started its operation and is part of China’s drive to become a science powerhouse.
It is also 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.
China insists its programme is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, saying it is pursuing activities aimed to prevent adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.
Key Features of Tianyan
- The telescope requires a radio silence within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius, resulting in the relocation of more than 8,000 people from their homes in eight villages to make way for the facility, state media said.
- Tvillagers would be compensated with cash or new homes from a budget of about $269 million from a poverty relief fund and bank loans.
- The telescope received radio signals from a pulsar that was 1,351 light-years from Earth.
- The radio telescope has double the sensitivity of the Arecibo Observatory, and five to 10 times the surveying speed.
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