Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

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Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope
Location(s) Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, China
Coordinates 25°39′09″N 106°51′24″E / 25.6525°N 106.8567°E / 25.6525; 106.8567Coordinates: 25°39′09″N 106°51′24″E / 25.6525°N 106.8567°E / 25.6525; 106.8567
Wavelength electromagnetic spectrum: (10 cm to 4.3 m)[1]
Built under construction
Telescope style spherical reflector
Diameter 500 metres (1,600 ft)
Collecting area 196,000 square meters (2,110,000 sq ft)
Dome none
Website [1]

The Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST; Chinese: 五百米口径球面射电望远镜) is a radio telescope under construction located in a natural basin (大窝凼洼地), in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, southwest China.

Construction on the FAST project began in 2011 and is scheduled for completion by September 2016. It will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope and three times more sensitive than the Arecibo Observatory.[2][3] It will have a cost of 700 million yuan[4] (around 110 million US dollars at the time).


The telescope was first proposed in 1994. The project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in In July 2007.[5] On December 26, 2008, a foundation laying ceremony was held on the construction site.[6] Construction started in March 2011,[4][7] and is scheduled for completion in 2016.[7][8]


It will have 4600 triangular panels and be similar in design to the Arecibo Observatory, utilizing a natural hollow (karst) to provide support for the telescope dish. As the name suggests, it will have a diameter of 500 metres (1,600 ft). Unlike Arecibo, which has a fixed spherical curvature, FAST will use an active surface that adjusts to create parabolas in different directions, with an effective dish size of 300 m. This means that it will not be confined to pointing directly upwards, but capable of covering the sky within 40° from the zenith, compared to Arecibo's 20° range. Its working frequency will be 70 MHz to 3.0 GHz,[3][9] with a pointing precision of 4 arcseconds.[5]

The Karst depression, used as the site, is large enough to host the 500 meter telescope and deep enough to allow a zenith angle of 40°. The active main reflector will correct for spherical aberration on the ground to achieve a full polarization and a wide band without involving complex feed systems. Furthermore, the light-weight feed cabin —suspended 140 m above the reflector— will be driven by cables and servomechanisms in addition to a parallel robot as a secondary adjustable system to move with high precision.

The chief scientist of the project is Rendong Nan,[8] a researcher with the Chinese National Astronomical Observatory, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Margaret Harris (2009-01-27). "China builds super-sized radio telescope -". Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  2. ^ "China starts building world’s biggest radio telescope". New Scientist. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  3. ^ a b Nan, Rendong. "Project FAST — Five hundred meter" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  4. ^ a b Darren Quick (2011-06-16). "China building world's biggest radio telescope". gizmag. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  5. ^ a b Jin, C. J.; Nan, R. D.; Gan, H. Q. (2007). "The FAST telescope and its possible contribution to high precision astrometry" (PDF). International Astronomical Union 248. doi:10.1017/S1743921308018978. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  6. ^ "中国科学院·贵州省共建国家重大科技基础设施500米口径球面射电望远镜(FAST)项目奠基". Guizhou Daily. 2008-12-27. Retrieved December 28, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Rendong Nan, Di Li, Chengjin Jin, Qiming Wang, Lichun Zhu, Wenbai Zhu, Haiyan Zhang, Youling Yue, Lei Qian (2011-05-20). "The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) Project". International Journal of Modern Physics. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  8. ^ a b McKirdy, Euan (12 October 2015). "China looks to the stars with creation of world's largest radio telescope". CNN News. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  9. ^ "Receiver Systems". FAST Home Page. National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 

Further reading[edit]