For the past several months there has been an active progress in the creation of the largest ever radio telescope in the world. Today marks a significant progress in that direction as the prototype of this telescope was unveiled in China’s Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei Province. Astronomers from around the globe had gathered here to look at this massive radio telescope dish.
While this is just a prototype, in the near future there will be 3000 such dishes spread across the deserts of South Africa and the Australian outback. These radio telescopes will observe data and send the feedback to supercomputers based in Australia, China, Europe and Britain. The construction of this project is expected to begin two years from now.
These locations of the Australian outback and the African deserts have been strategically chosen as they are among some of the most silent places on earth. The dishes that would be set up in the West Australian region would be listening for the lowest frequencies that can possibly be heard, known popularly as ‘the oldest sounds of the universe’.
“We open our telescopes in Australia to scientists from around the world because that is how we get the best brains from around the world for free, to combine with our telescopes and our minds, to broaden our knowledge and our networks,” says CSIRO’s director of astronomy and space science, Douglas Bock.
This unveiling of the prototype dish is a key milestone in this project where over 10 countries are involved. A new intergovernmental organization is likely to be set up in Rome in the coming months where members of all these nations will meet. Bock says it is a “global science project, the like of which we haven’t had”. In early 2019, Australia will begin surveying the skies with the help of telescopes built by China to determine the exact locations of setting up these radio telescopes once they are ready.