Last panel in place, China ready to boot up giant telescope

Igor's got his hand on the Big Red Switch

China's bolted down the last mirror of its Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), put away the hex key, and is about to start trial observations with the instrument.

Xinhua has announced the last of its 4,450 panels was hoisted into place over the weekend, meaning it's time for the Chinese astroboffins to start the business of commissioning the giant radio-telescope.

FAST is located in Pingtang County, in Guizhou Province, and to get the radio quiet the telescope needs, the government relocated around 9,000 residents within 5km of the 'scope in February.

Observations from the 37.8 micro-Wales (500 metres across) telescope will be fed to the Skyeye-1 petascale supercomputer over 100 Gbps links.

The country's National Astronomical Observatories hopes FAST will be sensitive enough to discover new pulsars in the Milky Way and in distant galaxies. ®


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