Bigger ear will listen out for ET
Updated: 2012-08-23 08:09
By Cui Jia (China Daily)
The world's largest radio telescope, which is expected to be completed in 2016, will be able to "see" three times deeper into space than current telescopes, and, as well as exploring distant galaxies and black holes, it will join the search for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
When it comes to radio telescopes, it's a case of the bigger the better, and China is building a 500-meter aperture single dish radio telescope in Guizhou province, southern China. Costing more than 700 million yuan ($110 million), it will allow astronomers and scientists from around the world to delve into the secrets of the universe based on cutting-edge technologies.
China will also build a hard X-ray modulation telescope for black hole studies, between 2014 and 2016, said Su Dingqiang, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and former president of the Chinese Astronomical Society, at the opening ceremony of the International Astronomical Union's 28th General Assembly on Tuesday. It will be China's first space telescope.
For centuries people have speculated about the possibility of life on Mars, and China launched its Yinghuo-1 micro-satellite in November 2011 hoping to explore our mysterious neighbor. Unfortunately, Yinghuo-1 crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Jan 16, after the Russian spacecraft that was carrying it failed to leave Earth's orbit.
Yinghuo-1 was meant to explore the planet's environment, climate history and look into why water had vanished from the surface, said Wu Ji, director-general of the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Meanwhile, NASA has launched a $2.5 billion Mars astrobiology project involving the rover Curiosity, which is currently exploring Mars on a two-year mission.
Many people in China have been closely following every move of Curiosity since it successfully landed on Mars on Aug 6.
Curiosity even has its account on Sina Weibo, a popular micro-blogging website in China.
"Today I was bored. I played "rock, paper, scissors" with my dear rock for the whole day. He lost every single time. The funny thing is he didn't know why," Curiosity wrote on Sunday after its laser - the Chemistry and Camera instrument dubbed ChemCam - used a rock for its initial "target practice".
Xin Dingding contributed to the story
(China Daily 08/23/2012 page6)