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Astronomie - China errichtet weltweit größtes 500m Radio Teleskop (FAST)

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24.07.2015

China has started assembling the world's largest radio telescope, which will have a dish the size of 30 football pitches when completed, state media reported as Beijing steps up its ambitions in outer space.
The five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) nestles in a bowl-shaped valley between hills in the southwestern province of Guizhou, images posted online show.
Technicians began attaching 4,450 triangular-shaped panels to the telescope's reflector on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
FAST will be the world's largest single-aperture telescope, it said, overtaking the Arecibo Observatory in the US territory of Puerto Rico, which is 305 metres (1000 feet) in diameter.
For years Chinese scientists have relied on "second hand" data collected by others in their research and the new telescope is expected to "greatly enhance" the country's capacity to observe outer space, Xinhua said.
"Having a more sensitive telescope, we can receive weaker and more distant radio messages," it cited Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying.
"It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe."
Beijing is accelerating its military-run multi-billion-dollar space exploration programme, which it sees as a symbol of the country's progress. It has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.
The dish will have a perimeter of about 1.6 kilometres, Xinhua said, and there are no towns within five kilometres, giving it ideal surroundings to listen for signals from space.
The region's karst topography—a landscape of porous rock fissured with deep crevasses and underground caves and streams—is ideal for draining rainwater and protecting the reflector, it added.
Construction on the telescope started in March 2011 and is scheduled to finish next year, Xinhua said.
Quelle: PHYS ORG
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Update: 28.07.2015
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China's supercomputer to support world's largest radio telescope
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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TIANJIN, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Supercomputer Skyeye-1, capable of a quadrillion computing operations per second, will support space exploration by the world's largest radio telescope based in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway, according to Dawning Information Industry Co., which participates in its construction.
When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter.
A radio signal as far as tens of billions of light years away could possibly be caught by the telescope, which will extend China's space tracking scope from moon's orbit to the outside edge of the solar system upon its completion next year.
As FAST needs strong computing system to support massive data storage and processing, Institute of Computing Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences(CASICT), Dawning Information Industry Co. and China (Guizhou) Skyeye Group signed agreement last November to jointly build a Qiannan Super Computing Center in Guizhou.
FAST daily peak demand will be above 200 teraflops per second and its first-phase storage demand will be more than 10 petabyte, said Zhang Peiheng, a researcher with the CASICT.
Skyeye-1, with its quadrillion computing operations per second and high-speed network of 100 gigabytes per second, can easily meet the demands of the telescope, said Ren Jingyang, vice president of Dawning Information Industry Co..
The construction of the telescope began in March 2011 in a natural, bowl-shaped valley in the southern part of Guizhou.
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Technicians work at the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 27, 2015. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the cable net of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the cable net of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the cable net of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 26.08.2015
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Schlüssel Teile zu großen Radioteleskop hinzugefügt
The installation of reflectors on the world's largest radio telescope has begun, marking the start of a final key stage of the telescope's construction.
Located in a natural valley of Southwest China's Guizhou province, the 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope, known as the FAST Project, had its first reflecting unit installed in early August.
Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group, a company in Hubei province responsible for installing the reflectors, said the reflector surface, with a diameter of 500 meters, consists of 4,450 reflecting units. About 20 units can be installed a day, and the installation is due to be completed by March next year.
FAST is a key national project and received funding of 1.2 billion yuan (190 million U.S. dollars) when construction began in 2011.
Zhang Haiyan, deputy director of the FAST Project's general office, said the telescope will take the place of the 305-meter-diameter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the largest of its kind in the world.
The sensitivity of the telescope will be more than 10 times stronger than that of a 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany, Zhang said. Scientists believe more discoveries and breakthroughs are expected after construction is completed in September 2016.
Site selection
Construction of the telescope was first proposed by astronomers from 10 countries, including China, in 1993. A year later, astronomers made several site-selection trips to southwest China, analyzing 400 natural basins.
One in Pingtang county, Guizhou province, was finally chosen for its almost-perfect spherical landform, which saved much effort in digging a hollow for the telescope, said Li Di, a scientist at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Zhu Boqin, an engineer who took part in the site survey more than 20 years ago, said the valley in Guizhou was also chosen for its karst formation of soluble rocks that ensures good drainage. This meant that rainwater would not gather to damage the reflecting surface of the telescope.
Additionally, radio interference from the surrounding area is low, since there is only one town within a radius of 25 kilometers, Zhu said.
In 2007, funding for the project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission. Two years later, the 65 residents of the valley, from 12 families, were moved to a town nearby.
On March 25, 2011, construction of the project officially kicked off, with a planned completion date in 2016.
Leading position
Li, the scientist, said the telescope, once completed, will hold a leading position for two or three decades worldwide and will be an open scientific research platform. "We welcome scientists from around the world to come," he said.
Future research through the telescope will be conducted on pulsars, galaxies, dark matter and cosmology, according to the National Astronomical Observatories.
Nan Rendong, chief scientist of the FAST Project and a researcher with the observatories, said FAST will have an extraordinary impact on astronomy.
"It will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences," he said.
FAST will enable astronomers to jump-start many science goals, such as the survey of natural hydrogen in distant galaxies, the detection of faint pulsars or listening for possible signals from other civilizations, Nan added.
"Chinese scientists have made numerous contributions in mathematics, computer sciences and particle physics in past years under impoverished conditions. Now, with the most advanced facility supported by the government, a giant step forward should be made," Li said.
Zeng Jun in Guiyang and Xinhua contributed to this story.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 22.11.2015
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China Focus: Construction of China's mega radio telescope enters final stage
Chinese scientists on Saturday tested the installation of the "retina" of the world's largest ever radio telescope to be completed in September next year.
Technicians lifted a 30-tonne feed cabin of the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope - or FAST - above a half-finished dish-like reflector measuring 500 meters in diameter and 1.6 kilometers in perimeter.
Once completed, the cabin, home to a feed source which collects signals from the universe, will be suspended 140 to 160 meters above the reflector made up of 4,450 panels.
Each panel is an equilateral triangle with a side length of 11 meters, and has cables fixed to the back of it so that it could adjust angles and positions in synchronization with the source cabin, which is driven by cables, servomechanisms in additional to a parallel robot as a secondary adjustable system.
"If you compare the FAST to an eye, then the feed source is its retina," said Sun Caihong, a chief engineer with the FAST program, "All signals we collect eventually comes here."
Sun said control of high-precision and long-distance movements of the source cabin using steel cables had been a serious challenge for experts, but they managed to narrow down maximum error to less then 10 millimeters.
"This is one of our greatest innovations," he said.
Construction of the FAST began in March 2011 with an investment of 1.2 billion yuan.
The installation of the test feed cabin means the construction of FAST has enter its final stage.
Technicians are still continuing the work that started months ago to assemble the reflector, which is hung over the ground supported by thousands of steel pillars and cables in a valley deep in southwest China's mountainous Guizhou Province.
The Karst formation in the local landscape is good for draining rainwater underground and protecting the reflector, Sun said.
The surrounding area has "radio silence" as there are no towns and cities within a sphere of five km and only one county center within a sphere of 25 km, he said.
Upon completion, the telescope will be the world's largest of its kind, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is 300 meters in diameter.
It will also be 10 times more sensitive than the steerable 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany, according to Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"FAST will be the top level facility in the world for at least 20 to 30 years," Zheng said.
Unlike optical telescopes used to observe the universe by visible light, a type of electromagnetic radiation, radio telescope operate in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum where they can detect and collect data on radio sources.
The key science goals of FAST are based on observables between 70MHz and 3 GHz, including the 21 cm HI hyperfine structure line, pulsar emissions and radio continuum.
Earlier reports said it will enable astronomers to jumpstart many science goals. For example, they could survey natural hydrogen in distant galaxies, detect faint pulsars, look for the first star shining, or even hear possible signals from other civilizations.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 16.02.2016
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China's Space Telescope to Displace Humans in Search for Aliens
BEIJING: China will move nearly 10,000 people to make way for the world's largest radio telescope which promises to help humanity search for alien life, state media reported on Tuesday.
The Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), nestled between hills in the southwestern province of Guizhou, is due to start operation this year.
Provincial officials have vowed to relocate 9,110 residents living within five kilometres of the listening device by September, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The relocations will "create a sound electromagnetic wave environment", it cited a top regional official named Li Yuecheng as saying.
Residents will receive 12,000 yuan ($1,800) in subsidies for their troubles, with some getting extra support for housing, it said.
FAST, built at a cost of 1.2 billion yuan, will dwarf the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the world's largest radio telescope, which is some 300 metres in diameter.
Xinhua earlier cited Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying that the telescope's high level of sensitivity "will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy".
In the past China has relocated hundreds of thousands of people to make way for large infrastructure projects such as dams and canals. Many complain of poor compensation.
The area surrounding the telescope is remote and relatively poor. Xinhua earlier said it was chosen because there are no major towns nearby.
As well as upping investment in astronomy, Beijing is accelerating its multi-billion-dollar space exploration programme, with plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually a manned mission to the moon.
Quelle: The Indian Express
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Update: 13.06.2016
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World's largest radio telescope nears completion

China's gigantic Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is nearing completion in China's southwestern Guizhou Province and will soon begin searching the skies for phenomena including signs of extraterrestrial life.
Construction of 500m diameter, 1.2 billion yuan (US$185mln) radio telescope began in 2011 and is on course to come online in September, when it will become the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope.
FAST, viewing the universe by collecting radio frequency radiation, will be capable of detecting very weak signals from space, and could make contributions in areas such as large-scale physics of the universe and  understanding the nature of dark matter.
It will contribute to the international search for intelligent extraterrestrial life (SETI) and could also be used to track spacecraft involved in China's space program.
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Above: Reflective panels being installed in Qiannan (China Daily).
The 1.6km perimeter telescope consists of nearly 4,500 panels and has been constructed in a natural karst depression, providing shielding from electromagnetic disturbances.
It is also helpfully over five kilometres away from the nearest town, thus benefitting from a measure of "radio silence".
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Above: FAST has a fixed spherical shape, but an 'active surface' (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
Eye on the sky
FAST's huge reflector is made up of 4,450 triangle panels measuring 11 metres on each side. A  source cabin is suspended between 140 to 160 metres above the reflector dish, 
The panels have cables fixed to the back, allowing computers to control them, providing an "active surface" that can alter the focal point. This will allow the reflectors to synchronise with the source cabin and enable FAST to receive signals from different directions.
"If you compare the FAST to an eye, then the feed source is its retina," Sun Caihong, a chief engineer with the FAST program, told Xinhua. "All signals we collect eventually come here."
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Above: The feed cabin above the surface of the reflector (China Daily).
Sun said control of high-precision and long-distance movements of the source cabin using steel cables had been a serious challenge for experts, but they managed to narrow down maximum error to less than 10 millimetres.
 
Its design is similar to the 305-metre Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the future of which is uncertain. 
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Above: The inhabited FAST telescope site before construction (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
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The nearly-complete FAST radio telescope in April 2016 (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
Quelle: gbtimes
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Terrestrially, the world's largest single aperture radio telescope, FAST, will come online in September in China's southwestern province of Guizhou.
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Above: China's gigantic 500m Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Guizhou (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
Quelle: gbtimes
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Update: 3.07.2016
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World's largest radio telescope completes installation
GUIYANG, July 3 The world's largest-ever radio telescope completed installation as the last piece of 4,450 panels was fitted in the center of the big dish on Sunday morning, a landmark step for its planned operation in September.
The hoisting of the last triangular-shaped panel to the reflector, as large as 30 football pitches, began at 10:47 a.m. and lasted about an hour.
About 300 people, including constructors, experts, science fiction enthusiasts and reporters, witnessed the installation in a karst valley in Pingtang County of the southwestern province of Guizhou.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Insight: Installation complete on world's largest radio telescope
The aerial photo taken on July 3, 2016 shows the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
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GUIYANG, July 3 Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish.
Hoisting of the last triangular panel to the reflector, which is the size of 30 football fields, began at 10:47 a.m. and lasted about an hour. It was a landmark step for the telescope's planned launch of operations in September.
About 300 people, including builders, experts, science fiction enthusiasts and reporters, witnessed the installation at a karst valley in Pingtang County in the southwestern province of Guizhou.
"The telescope is of great significance for humans to explore the universe and extraterrestrial civilizations," said Liu Cixin, a renowned science fiction writer, at the site.
"I hope scientists can make epoch-making discoveries," said Liu, who won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), said Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation (NAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the telescope.
The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life, said Zheng.
Zheng said the radio telescope will be the global leader for the next 10 to 20 years.
In the first two or three years after its completion, the telescope will undergo further adjustment, and during that period Chinese scientists will use it for early-stage research. After that, it will be open to scientists worldwide, said Peng Bo, director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory.
Scientists can also carry out remote control and observation in other cities such as Beijing, more than 2,000 kilometers from the telescope site, said Peng.
Upon completion, the telescope will dwarf Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is 300 meters in diameter. It will also be 10 times more sensitive than the steerable 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany, he said.
"Most of the technology and materials are domestically made," said Wang Qiming, chief technologist of the FAST project.
Among the 7 FAST receivers, five were domestically made and another two were co-produced by Chinese, Australian and American institutions.
Work on the 1.2-billion-yuan (180 million U.S. dollars) FAST project began in 2011.
EYE ON THE SKY
Radio telescopes have made major astronomical discoveries, such as pulsars, quasars and cosmic microwave background radiation. Among the 10 Nobel Prizes in physics awarded for discoveries related to cosmology and space, six were attributed to radio telescopes.
"As the world's largest single aperture telescope located at an extremely radio-quiet site, its scientific impact on astronomy will be extraordinary, and it will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences," said Nan Rendong, chief scientist with the FAST Project.
FAST will enable astronomers to get a jump-start on many scientific goals, including surveying neutral hydrogen in distant galaxies and detecting faint pulsars.
Scientists also expect breakthroughs on pulsars, the highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. So far more than 2,000 pulsars have been detected.
"Pulsars can help scientists study gravitational waves," Chen added.
As China joins international efforts in gravitational wave detection, FAST will help improve the chances of detecting low frequency gravitational waves, said Wu Xiangping, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who predicted great breakthroughs in this area in the years ahead.
For ordinary people, perhaps the most exciting goal of FAST is the search for alien life.
In two or three years, scientists could find amino acids, the foundation block of life. There is a great chance that people will someday find life on other planets or galaxies, said Li Di, an NAO researcher.
"FAST's potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets," said Peng Bo.
"THANK THE ALIENS"
It has been more than two decades since Chinese scientists proposed building FAST in Guizhou.
In 1994, site surveying started on geo-morphological features and the distribution of karst depressions, climate, engineering environment, social environment, and radio interference.
Engineer Zhu Boqin worked on the site selection 20 years ago. He recalled that after more than two hours trudging on the rugged mountain road, about 150 kilometers south of the provincial capital Guiyang, he was impressed by the sight of a large, round depression embraced by verdant hills.
It was home to 65 people from 12 families in a closed-off world called "Green Water Village." Lacking electricity, the villagers had a clear view of the starlit sky at night.
Zhu said that though the villagers did not understand the radio telescope, they were excited when scientists explained that they would use it to search for intelligent beings on other planets. Formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum, the karst formations create naturally spherical depressions. This saved efforts in digging hollows for the dish, said Li Di.
The three hills around the depression formed an equilateral triangle, creating a perfect holder for the dish, Li said.
The karst formation is also good for draining rainwater and protecting the reflector, Zhu said. Moreover, the surrounding area has "radio silence" as there are no towns within a 5-km radius, and only one county seat within 25 km.
The site was eventually chosen for the FAST Project.
Residents were moved away to towns in 2009, where they enjoy better living standards. Villagers in nearby communities admired their luck, saying they should "thank the aliens."
"I never thought the first time I would move would be to make way for a telescope," said Yang Chaolan, 62, who now lives in a government-funded two-story building in the seat of Kedu Township.
Her son, Yang Tianyou, 29, plans to open a restaurant or supermarket in hopes that growing tourism will bring him fortune.
According to a government plan, 9,110 residents living within five kilometers of the telescope will be resettled in Pingtang County and Luodian County in four settlements by the end of September.
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The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The photo taken on July 3, 2016 shows the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being transported in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
The aerial photo taken on July 3, 2016 shows the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
Combined photo shows picture of night view of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province taken on Sept. 1, 2014 (up) (Photo provided by the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences) and picture of the nearly-done project of FAST taken on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Xinhua photojournalist Ou Dongqu). Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life. (Xinhua)
Combined photo shows pictures of the construction site of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province taken respectively on May 25, 2009 (L, up), Sept. 6, 2011 (R, up), Aug. 5, 2012 (L, Center), May 2, 2014 (R, Center), Jan. 16, 2015 (L, down) and July 3, 2016. (The first five pictures are provided by the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the last is taken by Xinhua photojournalist Ou Dongqu). Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life. (Xinhua)
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 25.09.2016 
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World's largest radio telescope begins operations 
 

GUIYANG, The world's largest radio telescope was put into use on Sunday in a mountainous region of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Shortly after noon, in a karst valley in Pingtang County, hundreds of astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts witnessed the official launch of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope's (FAST) mission to explore space and hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Work on the nearly 1.2-billion-yuan (180 million U.S. dollars) project started in 2011, 17 years after it was proposed by Chinese astronomers.

The installation of the telescope's main structure -- a 4,450-panel reflector as large as 30 football pitches -- was finished in early July.

"(The telescope) will certainly generate enthusiasm, bring people into science, and make China important in the world of science," Joseph Taylor, a Nobel Prize-winning astronomer at Princeton University, told Xinhua.

The astronomer was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1993 for discovering indirect proof of gravitational waves with the assistance of Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, home to a radio telescope that is 350 meters in diameter.

Taylor expects FAST to be a "productive" project, even if he is unsure whether any of its discoveries will lead to a Nobel Prize.

In fact, FAST has already had a good start. In a recent trial observation, it received a set of high-quality electromagnetic waves sent from a pulsar about 1,351 light-years away, said Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observation (NAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the project.

FAST's tasks include observation of pulsars as well as exploration of interstellar molecules and interstellar communication signals.

To ensure the telescope's performance, more than 8,000 locals are being resettled from their homes to make way for the project, which requires radio silence within a 5-kilometer radius. Visitors to the zone must turn off their mobile phones.

The telescope's leading engineer Wang Qiming said the telescope, designed and built by Chinese scientists, will remain the global leader for the next 10 to 20 years.

Yan Jun, head of the NAO, said China will roll out more "world-class" telescope projects in five to 10 years.

Quelle: Xinhua

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China's giant telescope may lead to "discoveries beyond wildest imagination": U.S. expert

 
 

Photo taken on Sept. 24, 2016 shows the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. The FAST, world's largest radio telescope, measuring 500 meters in diameter, was completed and put into use on Sunday. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)

WASHINGTON, China's 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) may help better understand the origin and structure of the universe and accelerate and even revolutionize the search for life beyond Earth, a renowned U.S. alien intelligence expert said Saturday.

FAST, the world's largest single-dish telescope with a diameter of a half kilometer, is expected to go online on Sunday. It is located at the Dawodang depression, a natural basin or "karst" in Pingtang County in the mountainous southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou.

The telescope, nicknamed Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, can accurately image twice as much the sky as the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which had previously been the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, with double sensitivity and five to 10 times the surveying speed.

Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, an organization promoting messaging outer space in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, noted that astronomers worldwide will be invited to use the facility through a competitive review of observing proposals.

"By opening FAST to use by the broader international community, China is demonstrating its commitment to fostering astronomy as a global scientific enterprise," he told Xinhua, saying it may lead to "discoveries beyond our wildest imagination."

As for FAST's scientific missions, Vakoch said it will be used to look for the signatures of complex organic molecules in interstellar space, which will show how widely the basic building blocks of life are distributed throughout the cosmos.

"For over a half century, astronomers have been using radio telescopes to answer the haunting question, 'Are we alone?' But astronomers face a daunting challenge: the signals they seek are so weak that an incredibly sensitive telescope is needed to detect them," he said.

"FAST's innovative design and huge collecting area give it unsurpassed speed and sensitivity, making it vital to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the coming decades," said Vakoch. "We can expect China to become a world leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence because of its demonstrated commitment in building FAST."

However, FAST will not initially be outfitted with the signal processing capabilities to search for aliens, he said. This technology will be added at a later stage, and when that happens, FAST will be able to scan the heavens for signals that "can't be created by nature, but only by advanced civilizations," Vakoch said.

Based on the recent history of radio telescopes, he also predicted that FAST will lead to "a dramatic increase in the number and variety of pulsars discovered." Pulsars, one of FAST's main scientific objectives, are dense, rotating stars that act as cosmic clocks, emitting pulses with remarkable regularity.

This could also provide scientists with the capability to detect gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time, from pairs of massive black holes, since FAST has the potential to precisely measure tiny changes of the pulsing rates of pulsars as the gravitational waves pass by.

Vakoch highlighted FAST's role in underpinning China's space program, noting that China has made great breakthroughs in space exploration, such as putting humans into Earth orbit and having taikonauts to dock with an orbiting module as a first step toward developing a Chinese space station.

"With the opening of FAST, China continues to demonstrate that it is a world leader in space exploration, now from an Earth-based observatory as well as from space," he added. "Astronomers around the world can be grateful to China for creating an observatory that may lead to discoveries beyond our wildest imagination."

Quelle: Xinhua

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FAST telescope is put into operation

CCTV.com

 

China has completed the installation of its 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, known as FAST.  It's the largest such radio telescope in the world.  FAST lies at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Scientists and reporters are gathering at the completion ceremony.  The telescope was independently designed and built by China. 

FAST's concept was initiated in 1994 and the construction took more than five years. Adjustment will take 2 to 3 years. Experts say FAST has the potential to search for remote objects to better understand the origin of the universe, and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Quelle: CCTV

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10, 9, 8 ... China prepares to flick the switch on world’s biggest telescopic eye on the sky

 

World’s largest single-aperture radio telescope, with diameter of 500 metres, expected to help make major contributions to the understanding of the universe

fast-g

China plans to switch on the world’s largest radio telescope on Sunday as it focuses much of its growing scientific ambitions on unlocking the fundamentals of the universe.

Along with other massive facilities that Beijing plans to build, the telescope, which as a diameter of 500 metres, could entice international researchers to the country as it tries to catch up with the United States in generating discoveries.

Officially named the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), the facility in Guizhou will replace the telescope at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory as the world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope.

It will be an extremely good telescope for studying some areas of astronomy, especially for the study of pulsars and the distribution of galaxies in the local universe
DONALD CAMPBELL, CORNELL UNIVERSITY ASTRONOMY PROFESSOR

Covering an area roughly the size of 30 soccer fields, it will scour a much bigger swathe of the sky than Arecibo for radio signals – including those possibly sent out by any aliens.

“It will be an extremely good telescope for studying some areas of astronomy, especially for the study of pulsars and the distribution of galaxies in the local universe,” said Donald Campbell, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and former director of the Arecibo Observatory.

Campbell said the telescope would make “significant contributions” to understanding the structure and history of the universe.

China is yet to announce a research plan for the telescope, but an early-stage study focused on six topics, including galaxy structure and the formation of stars, according to the study’s website.

The National Astronomical Observatories said the FAST team would not take media inquiries before the telescope’s launch on Sunday.

 
 

 

In its push to generate as much basic science as the US by 2020, Beijing has spared no effort in upgrading research facilities.

The new telescope cost 1.2 billion yuan (HK$1.4 billion) to build, and an additional 1.8 billion yuan to relocate more than 9,000 residents from its site, state-run Xinhua reported.

The relocation was to make sure that no one lived within 5km of the telescope.

To protect it from radiation interference, people would not be allowed to use electronic devices, including mobile phones and digital cameras, if they entered the area, China Central Television reported.

The Chinese government is willing to spend big money on basic research, which is good news for us
UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG SCIENTIST STEPHEN NG CHI-YUNG

“The Chinese government is willing to spend big money on basic research, which is good news for us,” University of Hong Kong scientist Stephen Ng Chi-yung said. “It creates a lot of opportunities for astronomers all over the world.”

Ng, who has been using telescopes in the US and Australia for his astrophysical research, said scientists from Hong Kong and elsewhere might head to China in the future to use its advanced facilities.

James Cordes, also from Cornell, said he had been invited by fellow astronomers in China to use the FAST in his research on pulsars, gravitational waves and fast radio bursts.

China also plans to build a 110-metre, fully steerable radio telescope in Qitai, in Xinjiang province, which will surpass the US’ Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to become the largest of its kind in the world.

Ng said the steerable radio telescope would be able to survey the part of the sky not covered by the FAST, which cannot be moved because the reflector is too heavy.

We do not think of astronomy as a competition ... I’m happy to see China is part of the community
DONALD CAMPBELL, CORNELL UNIVERSITY ASTRONOMY PROFESSOR

The site in Xinjiang was chosen in 2011, and a major research project for its construction was launched in April last year. It is unclear when construction will start. It is unclear when construction will start.

Although the FAST will be one of the most advanced radio telescopes on earth, scientists say they need a wide range of telescopes covering different parts of the sky and radio frequencies to study the universe.

“We do not think of astronomy as a competition,” Campbell said. “It’s the extensive collaboration throughout the world between astronomers using different telescopes. I’m happy to see China is part of the community.”

Quelle: South China Morning Post

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