China’s FAST telescope to open global applications for 2024 observation

BEIJING: China’s Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest filled-aperture telescope, is set to open its 2024 observation season to global applications starting midnight on 6th April.

According to a report by China Central Television, FAST will accept global applications for free observation projects between August 2024 and July 2025, and applications can be submitted through the official website of China’s FAST.

“Global scientists can apply for their observations in 2024 through this channel. Since its operation, we have received applications from 15 countries,” said Sun Chun, engineer in charge of measurement and control of the FAST.

According to Sun, the 15 countries include Germany, Italy and France, and the applications mainly involve fast radio burst observations, pulsar observations, and neutral hydrogen surveys.

Located in a deep and round karst depression in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, the FAST officially opened to international scientists on 31st M
arch 2021. And since then, it has approved a total of nearly 900 hours of observation access for foreign research teams.

Having earned a doctorate in pulsar astrophysics at the University of Manchester, British astronomer Ralph Eatough works as a pulsar astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Eatough said opening up the FAST to the world means that now astronomers have the possibility to perform experiments that were previously not possible due to insufficient telescope sensitivity, and that a prime example is the potential to detect pulsars located in external galaxies.

Engineers at the control centre are diligently monitoring real-time observations, such as pulsar searches, displayed on screens updating with data streaming in from space, working to ensure that the FAST becomes even more stable and efficient.

Currently, the telescope logs about 5,300 hours of observation time annually, playing an instrumental role in the continuous output of scientific re
search achievements.

The FAST is currently undertaking observation tasks for scientific objectives such as pulsar search, pulsar timing, neutral hydrogen sky survey, and fast radio bursts.

With exceptional sensitivity, the FAST has detected over 890 pulsars as of the beginning of this year, more than triple the combined total detected by similar telescopes abroad during the same period.

Source: Emirates News Agency