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China to build world's largest steerable radio telescope

Xinhua,January 12, 2018 Adjust font size:

The Chinese government has approved a plan to build a giant radio telescope in Qitai County, in the far western region of Xinjiang.

Chinese scientists claim that the device, named the QTT, will be the world's largest steerable radio telescope after its construction is completed.

According to the plan, the QTT will have a steerable 110-meter wide circular dish. The two largest steerable radio telescopes currently in use, with 100-meter wide dishes, are located in the U.S. and Germany.

Radio telescopes perform their observational tasks by receiving radio waves from space. The QTT is expected to be used to study phenomena such as black holes and stellar nurseries in the farthest reaches of the Universe.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has been leading the design of the telescope since research related to the QTT program started about a decade ago.

Chinese scientists considered nearly 50 locations across Xinjiang before deciding to locate the QTT at a site in the foothills of the massive Tian Shan mountain range. Scientists believe the mountains surrounding the site can protect the telescope from interference by stray radio frequencies.

China is already the home of the world's largest radio telescope. The FAST, located in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou, is a 500-meter wide telescope. It started operation in 2016 more than 20 years after it was first proposed by Chinese scientists. However, unlike the dish of the QTT, the FAST uses a fixed position dish.