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FAST has struggled to hire researchers because of its remote location, low pay and questions about research independence. (Picture: Xinhua)

China’s FAST radio telescope officially opens to astronomers around the world

World’s largest single-dish radio telescope hunts for mysterious radio waves in the universe

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

China’s massive Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) is now formally in operation and open to astronomers around the world.

Since October 2017, the telescope has helped Chinese scientists discover 102 pulsars, the team reportedly said last weekend. That’s more than the total number of pulsars discovered by European and American research teams. The telescope is also “participating in the search for extraterrestrial civilizations,” according to the project website.
Construction of the telescope started in 2011, completing in September 2016. The project relocated nearly 10,000 residents living nearby in the impoverished Guizhou Province.

FAST, or “Sky Eye” as dubbed by Chinese authorities, first opened to domestic astronomers in April last year. The size of the telescope is equal to that of 30 football fields, and it’s 2.5 times more sensitive than Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, the world’s second-largest single-dish radio telescope, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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