FAST – the world’s largest telescope built by China

 Tuesday, August 28, 2018

world’s largest telescopeThe world’s largest telescope built by China appears to be a giant golf ball in the middle of China’s new Pingtang Astronomy Town.

China’s Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, or FAST, was completed in September 2016.

China spent $180 million to create the telescope, and officials are of the opinion that it will make the country the global leader in radio astronomy. The local government also spent on hotels, housing, a vineyard, a museum, a playground and classy restaurants in this astronomy town. The government hopes that in this way, it will encourage tourists and new residents to visit the historically poor Guizhou province.

Radio telescopes sense radio waves from space—gas clouds, galaxies, quasars. By the time those celestial objects’ emissions reach Earth, they’ve dimmed to near-nothingness; hence, astronomers build these gigantic dishes to pick up the faint signals. But their size makes them particularly sensitive to all radio waves, including those from cell phones, satellites, radar systems, spark plugs, microwaves, Wi-Fi, short circuits, and basically anything else that uses electricity or communicates. Protection against radio-frequency interference, or RFI, is the reason why scientists build radio telescopes in remote locations: the mountains of West Virginia, the deserts of Chile, the way-outback of Australia.

For FAST, China even forcibly relocated thousands of villagers who lived nearby, so their modern trappings wouldn’t interfere with the new prized instrument.

However, paradoxically, the government built this astronomy town just a few miles from the displaced villagers’ demolished houses. It also aims to increase the permanent population by hundreds of thousands.


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