China plans to launch its 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope to foreign scientists in 2021. The radio telescope in southwest China’s peaks is the world’s biggest and, for the time being, the only one of its type.
The ultra-sensitive telescope is up to three times more powerful than Arecibo, and it is encircled by a 5-kilometer radio silence region where radio intrusion from phones and other devices is forbidden. Fast has been used to catch radio signals from the cosmos since it begun complete service in January of this year.
The ruling comes after the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the world’s second leading radio telescope, was damaged when its receiver base cracked loose and rammed with the telescope’s 140-meter radio dish beneath.
“Our scientific committee wants to make FAST more accessible to the international community,” Wang Qiming, chief inspector of FAST’s service and development center, said. China has indicated that it will consider applications from global researchers to use the telescope for experiments. Following the collapse of Arecibo Observatory, it is likely that the telescope will be in high demand.