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World's largest single-aperture telescope put into operation

By Hou Liqiang and Yang Jun in Pingtang, Guizhou (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-09-25 13:39 Comments

World's largest single-aperture telescope put into operation

This scene taken from FAST's viewing platform shows the panorama of the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope in Pingtang county, Guizhou province, Sept 24, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

China officially put into operation the world's largest single-aperture telescope on Sunday and scientists said they welcome their foreign counterparts for space research after first debugging the facility to ensure its best optimal performance.

"It's so huge in size and the technology we use in its driving device and reflecting surface have never been used before," said Zhang Shuxin, deputy general manager of the Five-Hundred Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) project.

The telescope in Pingtang county, China's Southwestern Guizhou province, is five hundred meters in diameter and equals the size of 30 soccer fields.

"A parabolid of 300 meters in diameter will be formed timely on the deflecting surface with the help of the driving device to receive signals. We need to gain experience and explore the right methods to ensure detection accuracy for that," he said.

It will take three to five years to debug the facility and make sure it will work as designed, he said.

Located in a natural valley in Guizhou, the project's first reflecting panel was installed in August 2015. The FAST's large hemispheric surface is made up of 4,450 1.3-millimeter-thin panels, with a weight ranging from 427 to 482.5 kilograms. Putting the panels together took 11 months.

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