Chinese Radio Telescope Hopes To Find Exoplanets FAST

People who enjoy radio are constantly struggling to find a place to erect a bigger and better antenna. Of course it’s a different story and the most hardcore end of the spectrum: radio astronomers. The Chinese are ready to open up a new radio telescope called FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope). As the name implies, it is 500 meters in diameter which is about 1,600 feet — that five and a half American football fields or about four and half of the other kind of football field.

The new telescope will be the largest single-dish observatory in the world and will offer about twice the area of the next-largest single-dish instrument at Arecibo. The project is in a very remote location, presumably to reduce the level of local radio interference — it’s hard to find radio quiet zones in heavily populated areas.

Scientists hope the huge antenna will help solve the mystery of fast radio bursts and may even study exoplanets. In fact, earlier this year, the instrument detected hundreds of fast radio bursts from a source, many of which were too faint to be heard by lesser antennas. There are also plans to examine pulsars in an attempt to discover ripples in space-time. The location in the Dawodang depression of the Guizhou province uses about 4,400 panels and 2,000 mechanical winches to focus radio energy.

Other telescopes that use multiple dishes have more resolution and, in fact, FAST adds 3 dozen 5 meter commercial dishes to get an increase in resolution of 100 times. Of course, you could build your own, although to get up to 500 meters might be a stretch. If your backyard isn’t that big, you can build a tiny radio telescope too.

21 thoughts on “Chinese Radio Telescope Hopes To Find Exoplanets FAST

      1. Sigh, you ‘muricans and your ignorance of the rest of the world. Don’t you know that China is not a country? It’s a vast continent containing several nations and many diverse cultures!


        Ok, well, it is a very large nation and more diverse than it usually gets credit for but still just one government which is obviously the funder of this project. I think gp was just someone who hadn’t had their morning coffee yet.

    1. Something related that I just read and can clarify the original comment:

      ” … Commentators should also refrain from using the word “Chinese” as a catch-all term, he said, preferring “the government of China” or “the culture of China”.
      That is because in Chinese language, unlike English, different words are used to describe citizens, people of Chinese descent and the country itself. … ”

      So, now and based in this information, I see how the “Chinese” term has not been the best to use.
      The government of China would have been more appropriate and knowledgeable.

      Our politically correct world expects so.

  1. The amazing part about this story is they are going to plug that antenna into a $6.95 SDR dongle plugged into a raspberry pi clone that is housed in an altoids tin. And the Chinese don’t even have altoids. I am not sure how they are going to pull this one off.

  2. Could this dish also be used as a transmitter, be weaponized as such? As our spystats fly over, could they mess them up pretty good, with a short burst of RF from the ground? Not sure if they could permanently disable them, but maybe blind them for a while, over China…

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