FAST Telescope

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST Telescope)
Credit - Absolute Cosmos on YouTubeCC BY 3.0

The FAST telescope is a radio telescope in the Guizhou province in China. It is the world’s largest telescope. FAST stands for Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope.

Construction of the massive telescope took more than 5 years. Scientists chose to build the telescope far from towns and villages. This reduces interference from devices which produce radio waves, such as mobile phones. It was a huge engineering challenge in such a remote location.

The FAST telescope has a similar design to the Arecibo Telescope. Both have a large dish built into the ground with a movable receiver hanging above the dish. FAST has a wider and deeper dish than the Arecibo telescope. This lets it observe more of the sky and detect fainter signals. Sections of the dish move which allows FAST to track objects in space.

The FAST telescope collects radio waves from objects in space. It searches for pulsars and 'fast radio bursts'. Scientists use the data to investigate gravitational waves and the 'interstellar medium' (the space between the stars). FAST is part of the SETI project to search for signs of alien life

Scientists started using FAST to observe the sky in 2016. They spent 3 years testing it to make sure it worked. The telescope made its first discovery of two new pulsars in 2017.