China puts into operation world's largest filled aperture radio telescope

Baku, September 26, AZERTAC

China has completed building and testing the independently-designed Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), intended for probing remote parts of the universe.

Scientists and reporters have gathered for a completing ceremony at the site of the telescope, the CCTV broadcaster reported, according to Sputnik News.

Located in a natural depression in the mountains of Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, the construction takes up the space equal to 30 football fields. A total of 1.2 billion yuan (almost $180 million at the current exchange rate) have been invested in the project since 2011.

The telescope is connected to one of the fastest astronomy computers Sky Eye 1 and is expected to enhance China's space exploration capabilities.

With the project first proposed in 1994, construction began in 2011 and was completed in July 2016, when testing commenced.

Despite its name, the telescope uses a circle of 300 meters (1,000 feet) of the total 500 meters to probe the distant universe. While the largest filled aperture telescope, it is second in size to Russia's RATAN-600, which is a sparsely filled aperture telescope and has a diameter of 576 meters.

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