The largest telescope in the world

The largest telescope in the world

Just recently, the Chinese have reported on the completion of the largest telescope in the world – and just look at the pictures!  The world’s largest telescope is now fully functional and undertaking the massive task of monitoring the cosmos for signs of intelligent life.

The telescope is actually the largest spherical dish radio telescope in the world, and has been built to nestle completely into the surrounding landscape in the South West of China.

The dish is an incredible 500 meters in diameter, and will be used to detect signals from outer space, as well as provide measurements of pulsar stars, which are believed to be by products of the explosions of supernova stars.  Even in testing, the telescope was believed to have recorded measurements from a pulsar more than 1000 light years away.

So with the ability to record signals over such a long focal distance, this incredible radio telescope will change the way think about the stars, and will provide scientists with a never before imagined ability to zoom in on a distant target, and to make accurate measurements of objects that we never imagined to be able to study.


The Largest Telescope

The massive dish of the Chinese telescope has been carved out of the mountains of the Guizhou province in South western China, and is an incredible feat of engineering.  In order to construct the huge dish with a diameter of 500 m, the Chinese National Astronomical Observation Agency initially located a suitably shaped bowl in the mountains, but had to conduct a massive earth moving project to create the perfect location and structure to support the dish.

So the natural mountainous layout provided a natural amphitheater for the location of the telescope, but the natural topography was not adequate for the accuracy required for the operation of a telescope.  Massive earthworks were required to shape and refine the layout of the land, and to provide suitable anchorage points for the structural supports.  In so doing, the entire topography of the land was modified in order to suit the shape of the spherical aperture telescope, and its massive foundations.


Construction of the World’s Largest Telescope

Largest TelescopeIn an incredible feat of engineering, the entire bowl of the mountain was reshaped to accommodate the curvature of the dish, and some of the surrounding mountain had to be removed to allow the structural aspects to be completed according to the plan.  And as you can see in the Google Earth picture, the result is an incredibly accurate reflecting telescope surface built with a perfect spherical geometry over a staggering surface area, with a diameter of 500 meters.  The telescope consists of a ring structure to support the outer panels of the spherical aperture, and also has several huge towers around the circumference of the telescope from which the focal point will be located above the center of the telescope.  Everything is on a huge scale with this massive telescope, and although it looks like any other spherical aperture telescope, this is simply extraordinary and has to be seen to be believed.

The project cost more than 1 billion Chinese Yuan, took more than 5 years to complete and is expected to provide astronomical research for the next 10 to 20 years.

The Largest Telescope – Spherical Aperture Telescope

Largest TelescopeThe massive telescope is actually a radio telescope, based on Spherical Aperture telescope technology and will be used to explore the depths of our universe, search for extraterrestrial life, and to observe distant interactions between stars and galaxies and the very origins of matter and the life of the universe.

Although a massive undertaking, the telescope is an integral aspect of China’s growth in the exploration of space, which include construction of space vehicles, launching of a Chinese space station, and many other projects aimed at becoming a major player in the aerospace field.  China aims to become a leader in the growing race for space exploration, and the construction of the world’s largest telescope is a clear indication of China’s intent to enter the space program, and to establish China as a serious contender amongst the other space researchers.

The Largest Telescope – built by the Chinese

Currently, Chinese scientists are intent on testing the operational capability of their newest radio telescope, and plan to have the world’s largest telescope fully operational later this year.

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