China building large radio telescope for space observation

21:46, December 30, 2009      

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Construction of a 65-meter-diameter radio telescope started Tuesday in Shanghai, an official from one of funders said Wednesday.

The telescope, a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy, will be used in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes including Chinese astronomical projects like Chang'e lunar probe, YH-1 Mars exploration and other deep space explorations, said Zhan Wenlong, deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The facility is also capable of receiving data for Jupiter and Saturn exploration, said Hong Xiaoyu, head of Shanghai Astronomical Observation, which will run the project after it is expected to be fully completed in 2015.

The 200-million-yuan (29.3 million U.S. dollars) project, funded by CAS, Shanghai Municipal Government and Chinese lunar probe project, will have a bowl-like surface composed by 1,008 panels as large as eight basketball courts in total area, said Hong.

The antenna structure of the telescope is scheduled to be finished by September 2012 and the facility is set to be used for tracking and locating missions during China's lunar probe program from 2013 to 2014.

China's Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), a type of astronomical interferometry used in radio astronomy would go up by 42 percent in terms of its sensitivity if the telescope replaces the current 25-meter one in Shanghai.

VLBI, composed of four telescopes in Shanghai, Beijing, Kunming, Urumqi and the data center in Shanghai was used for tracking and locating purposes during the first phase of China's lunar probe program.

Source: Xinhua
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