China is on track to have the world’s largest telescope, as large as 30 football fields, installed in its southwest.
The installation process, due for completion in 2016, is currently being undertaken in Pingtang County of Guizhou Province.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) has undergone five years of construction and takes shape with the spherical edge constructed out of 5,600 tons of steel beams.
Nan Rendong, the chief scientist of the project, said, “With larger diameter and higher accuracy, the telescope will better detect more distant and dim celestial bodies. The good thing is that we will observe more samples from which we can discover more strange astronomical phenomena.”
According to Li Di, chief scientist of the National Astronomy Observatory of China said the aim is to capture the farthest-ever view into the universe.
He said that the US Arecibo Observatory is to be outdone by FAST, whose observation sensitivity upon completion will, according to Nan, be two times larger than the American radio telescope.
The telescope was first proposed in 1994. The project was approved by the National development and reform commission in October 2008.
On December 26, 2008, a foundation laying ceremony was held on the construction site. Construction started in March 2011.