Panoramic photo showing China’s 500-m Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in southwest China’s Guizhou Province (Credit: Steve Dent).
The 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST), also known as China’s Tianyan or “Sky Eye,” will open to the global scientific community and accept observation applications from scientists around the world starting from April 1, 2021. Foreign scientists will be able to submit applications to China’s National Astronomical Observatories online; after review, observation times will be doled out starting on August 1st. Around 10 percent of observation times will be allotted to global astronomers this year, according to FAST’s chief engineer Jiang Peng. Located in Pingtang County, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, FAST is currently the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. Its reflective surface area is equivalent in size to about 30 standard football pitches, reports said. FAST was completed in 2016 and started formal operation on January 11, 2020. As of November, it has discovered more than 240 pulsars, the National Astronomical Observatories announced. It is also now the only “sky eye” that humans can use to observe cosmic waves, following the 305-meter iconic Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in the US, which retired in November 2020 due to a broken cable and insufficient funding, finally collapsing on December 1.
A version of this story was first published in Global Times of 4th January 2021.
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