China will allow astronomers around the world to use its giant radio telescope called FAST in the next few months. Also known as Tianyan or ‘Sky Eye’, the world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope is located in the Dawodang depression, a natural basin in Pingtang County, southwest China’s Guizhou Province.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) is made up of 4,500 aluminum panels and the giant dish can be maneuvered to focus on different areas of the sky.
The 500-meter (1,600 feet) diameter dish was constructed in a natural depression in the landscape. China owns the intellectual property rights of FAST, which stands as the world’s largest filled-aperture telescope and the second-largest single-dish aperture, after the sparsely-filled RATAN-600 in Russia.
As per China’s National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), FAST will accept observation applications from scientists across the world from Wednesday midnight (March 31).
China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (#FAST) has detected three new fast radio bursts (FRBs) from space. The newly discovered FRBs, with the first FRB captured in 2020, suggest there could be as many as 120,000 detectable FRBs arriving on Earth every day. pic.twitter.com/yisuidZpVw
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) March 9, 2021
The Chinese Academy of Sciences or CAS is the national academy for the natural sciences of the People’s Republic of China and is behind the nation’s drive to explore and harness high technology and the natural sciences for itself and the rest of the world.
Foreign scientists are now eligible to submit their applications online. According to reports, the results for this will be announced on July 20, and the observations will begin in August.
“Since it was completed in 2016, the facility has been operating stably and reliably, discovering more than 300 pulsars and making several breakthroughs in the field of fast radio bursts and other research,” said CAS.
Although it sees less of the sky than some other cutting-edge radio telescopes and has a lower resolution than multi-dish arrays, FAST’s size makes it uniquely sensitive, Di Li, the chief scientist of FAST, told leading science magazine Nature in 2019.
According to China’s state-owned Global Times, the radio telescope will provide research facilities to the world with a more open attitude.
The Sky Eye will also provide more observation possibilities to the global scientific community while contributing Chinese wisdom to building a community of shared future for humanity.
First proposed in 1994, the project was approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in July 2007.