China builds super-sized radio telescope Jan 27, 2009 Physics World
Construction has begun on a massive new 500 m diameter radio telescope in Guizhou Province, China, that will allow astronomers to detect galaxies and pulsars at unprecedented distances. The $102m facility, known as the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), will boast a collecting area equal to 30 football fields — more than twice as big as the 305 m diameter radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which has been the world’s largest since it opened in 1964.
The geography and remoteness of FAST’s site — located some 170 km by road from the provincial capital Guiyang, near the village of Dawodang — make it unusually radio-quiet, says Nan Rendong, FAST chief scientist and a researcher from the National Astronomical Observatories at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Like Arecibo, the new telescope will sit in a natural karst depression that mimics the shape of the collecting surface, simplifying the support structure and shielding the telescope from stray human-generated radio waves.