China’s open up of “Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST)”

Recently, China has announced to open up the largest radio telescope in the world to International scientists. FAST i.e. Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope is the largest radio telescope in the world located in Pingtang, Guizhou, China.

Key Points

  • This move of China has come after the collapse of Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico recently.
  • FAST surpassed the Arebico Observatory as the largest radio telescope in the world in the year 2016.
  • Before this, Arebico was the largest radio telescope in the world for 53 years.
  • China will accept requests from foreign scientists willing to use the instrument for their research from the next year.

Features of FAST

  • FAST has a 1,600-foot (500 meters) diameter dish.
  • The dish focuses radio waves on a receiving antenna in a feed cabin suspended 460 feet (140 m) above it. The reflector is made up of aluminum panels (perforated) that are supported by steel cables hanging from the rim.
  • The surface of FAST is made of 4450 triangular panels, 11 m on a side, in the form of a geodesic dome.
  • FAST is also surrounded by a radio-silence zone of 5 metres.
  • The work on FAST began in 2011 and was completed in 2016. It was declared fully operational in January 2020.

Arebico Observatory

It is an observatory owned by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The Arecibo Telescope was recently collapsed in December 2020 after cable breaks.  A warning was already issued for the telescope but it collapsed before anything could be done. The telescope had a 1,000 ft spherical reflector dish. Other than the main telescope which collapsed, the observatory also has a LIDAR facility, a radio telescope, and a visitor center.