Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope
|Location(s)||Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, China|
|Diameter||500 metres (1,600 ft)|
The Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (Chinese: 五百米口径球面射电望远镜) (FAST) is a radio telescope under construction located in a natural basin (大窝凼洼地), in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, southwest China. As of June 2011[update] construction should be complete by September 2016. It will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope and three times more sensitive than the Arecibo Observatory. It will have a cost of 700 million yuan (around 110 million US dollars at the time).
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).
It 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. Its working frequency will be 0.3-3.0 GHz, with a pointing precision of 4 arcseconds.
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 degrees. 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 will be driven by cables and servomechanisms in addition to a parallel robot as a secondary adjustable system to move with high precision.
The telescope was first proposed in 1994. In October 2008, the project was approved by the National development and reform commission. On December 26, 2008, a foundation laying ceremony was held on the construction site. Construction started in March 2011.
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