China Breaks Ground on 40-Meter-Aperture Radio Telescope in Tibet
Jin Yezi
DATE:  Sep 18 2023
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
China Breaks Ground on 40-Meter-Aperture Radio Telescope in Tibet China Breaks Ground on 40-Meter-Aperture Radio Telescope in Tibet

(Yicai) Sept. 18 -- The construction of a 40-meter-aperture radio telescope in Shigatse, China's southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region, has officially kicked off.

Developed by the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the telescope is expected to carry out initial observations by the end of next year and be fully operational by the end of 2025, said Shen Zhiqiang, director of the observatory.

The telescope will have an observation capability between one and 100 gigahertz and will be tasked for lunar and deep space exploration, Shen noted.

The latest Chinese lunar and planetary exploration missions used a new type of trajectory measurement system based on ranging and velocity measurement and very-long-baseline interferometry.

VLBI uses multiple radio telescopes to observe one sole celestial body at the same time, simulating the effect of observing it with a single huge radio telescope with a diameter equal to the maximum distances between the individual telescopes.

The longer the distance between the telescopes, the higher the sensitivity and spatial resolution from multiple telescope's joint observations, Zhen Weimin, director of the SHAO's division for radio astronomy science and technology, told Yicai.

The SHAO is also building another 40-meter-aperture radio telescope on the Changbai mountains in China's northeastern Jilin province.

Jilin and Tibet are the best locations to build the telescopes, as one is the most northeastern and the other the most southwestern regions of China, Zhen noted.

According to the needs of China's lunar exploration project, the two 40m-diameter large radio telescopes in Tibet and Jilin will connect with the four existing radio telescopes of China's VLBI network to become a crucial part of the lunar exploration project's measurement and control system.

Shigatse is also a suitable location for its local weather characteristics. With an average altitude of over 4,000 m, Shigatse features dry air, sunny days, rare human activities, and less electromagnetic wave interference, Zhen added.

Editor: Futura Costaglione

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Keywords:   Tibet,Telescope,VLBI