Celestial eye: the world’s largest telescope FAST
China’s competition for leadership in technology know-how has resulted in tremendous investment and effort in these areas. The seriousness of intentions and the scale of Beijing’s ambitions are demonstrated by the FAST telescope, the world’s largest radio telescope, built by China. More than a billion Yuan has been invested in it, the size of the “bowl” is 500 meters, and the telescope itself has already been nicknamed “the heavenly eye of China.” The FAST spherical telescope is the only such telescope in the world. Now the only one! The fact is that he would not have become so exceptional if not for the recent events in Puerto Rico.
In December 2020, the legendary telescope in Puerto Rico literally in a matter of minutes turned into a heap of stones and metal structures! It worked for 57 years, became famous for its James Bond films, and was open to tourists as a tourist attraction. But at one point, the support towers could not withstand the platform weighing 900 tons, and it collapsed onto a 300-meter reflector bowl, forever burying the opportunity to restore the telescope for space exploration. It was the telescope at the Arecibo Observatory that was the prototype for the FAST telescope.
How it works
The process of implementing such an ambitious project as FAST began in China in 2011. In 2020, the telescope was officially put into operation, but, in fact, it has been working since 2016. FAST is located in Pingtang in Guangzhou Province.
FAST’s specialization is that by studying pulsars, rapidly rotating stars that have already completed their evolutionary path, a telescope can answer many questions regarding the mysteries of the universe. It is three times more sensitive than its predecessors. China was not stopped by the fact that thousands of people had to be resettled in order to install the giant “eye” to make room for the observatory. The telescope bowl is so large that it can be compared with the area of 30 football fields, and the object itself within a radius of two and a half kilometers is a “radio silence” zone, where mobile phones and computers are strictly prohibited.
Lure for scientists and an offer “from the king’s shoulder”
China is rapidly building up its scientific reputation while proving that it keeps up with innovation. For a whole year after the commissioning of the FAST telescope, only Chinese scientists had access to it. This time was enough to “warm up” the attention of the world scientific community and bring the degree of expectation to the required condition.
Already in early 2021, China announced: accepting applications from scientists from around the world wishing to conduct observations with the FAST telescope. And there is no end to those who want to, because it is clear to everyone: the data collected by FAST can reveal the secrets of the origin of the Universe, which have so far remained beyond the reach of other observation instruments. And so far there is no alternative to the Chinese telescope in this.
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