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Large scale survey telescope to be built in Northwest China

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-23 14:51
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Two telescopes at the site of the Saishiteng mountain observatory. [Photo/Xinhua]

XINING -- Chinese experts will build a survey telescope with wide field and high resolution in Lenghu (Cold Lake) town, in Northwest China's Qinghai province, sources here said.

On April 16, the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) signed a cooperation agreement with the Haixi Mongol and Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai province. They plan to build the telescope on top of Saishiteng mountain near the Lenghu town, famed for being China's "Mars Camp" due to its eerily eroded desert landscape that closely resembles the surface of the red planet.

The Wide Field Survey Telescope (WFST), featuring an advanced active zoom optical system and a 2.5-meter in diameter optical telescope, is expected to capture wide-field and high-resolution images of the sky.

Kong Xu, deputy dean of the School of Astronomy and Space Science, USTC, said that equipped with the CCD detector of 750 million pixels, the survey telescope can survey the northern celestial sphere every three nights.

A CCD detector is divided up into many small light-sensitive areas known as pixels, which can be used to assemble an image of the area of interest.

The construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, and the survey telescope is expected to be put into operation in 2022.

Kong said Chinese researchers hope to make breakthroughs in time-domain astronomy, celestial body search and near-field cosmology with the WFST.

Located on the northwest edge of Qaidam Basin on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Saishiteng mountain observatory boasts ideal natural conditions for building a world-class observatory.

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