Meet the World’s Largest (Future) Radio Dish

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FAST radio observatory
[Photo: arXiv]
This is the Five-hundred-meter (546-yard) Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). It’s a massive bowl-shaped radio signal collector located in the Guizhou province in southern China and it’s due to open in 2016.

Those familiar with Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory (previously the World’s largest radio dish installation measuring 305-meters in diameter) might notice that FAST looks just like it. That‘s because the Chinese engineers are using the same design as a base. FAST will be a much larger version of Arecibo, allowing it to see three times further in to space than Arecibo, scan wider sections of the sky, and process all that data more quickly.

FAST observatory dish frame
Prototype of the aluminum back frame. [Photo: arXiv]

In total, FAST consists of 4,400 triangular aluminum panels that form a 1,000-foot parabolic mirror. Each panel of the dish reflects radio signals back to the central point where instruments can process the data. FAST can theoretically scan 19 regions of the sky simultaneously and detect extraplanetary transmissions from distances greater than 1,000 light years from Earth.

FAST also represents China’s contribution in the international efforts to Square Kilometre Array initiative to further map out the cosmos.

[arXiv via New Scientist and Popular Science]

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