Saturday, December 27, 2008
China to Build World's Largest Radio Telescope to be Completed in 2013
The Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin, New Mexico is now one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories consisting of 27 radio antennas.
Construction of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) commenced in Guiyang, China yesterday; and, when completed in 2013 it will be the largest radio telescope in the world at a cost of over $102-million USD, according to the Xinhua News Agency and The Shanghai Daily.
It will have 4,600 panels and be similar in design to the Arecibo Observatory, utilizing a natural hollow (karst) to provide support for the telescope dish. It will use an adaptive surface that adjusts to create parabolas in different directions, with an effective dish size of 300m. This means that, unlike Arecibo, it will not be confined to pointing directly upwards [2002 PDF].
The advantage of FAST lies in its sensitivity which is double that of the Arecibo Radio Telescope and one order of magnitude higher than fully steerable 100-meter diameter antennas. The project is being supervised by the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences.