China has been moving at a staggering pace when it comes to space exploration and is targetting not just Mars, but asteroids and distant planets in the future. But, before all that, Beijing is geared up to introduce the world to the largest circular radio telescope array that will be aimed at the Sun.
The construction of the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) on the Tibetan Plateau is going ahead at full steam and once complete, it will be a network of 313 dishes spanning six meters wide that will study the sun in detail, going deeper into the mechanisms that cause the Coronal Mass Ejections.
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) comes right after a star throws out a flare or a sudden and bright burst of radiation that can extend far out into space. A coronal mass ejection is one of the biggest eruptions from the Sun’s surface that can contain a billion tons of matter accelerated to several million miles per hour into space.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post the telescope will be used to study CMEs and understand the phenomenon when magnetised plasma escapes from the sun’s upper atmosphere and propagates in space.
The radio telescope will have a circumference of 3.14 kilometers as it images the Sun in radio waves and observes not just large eruptions, but also the changing activity of the star in our solar system. Reports indicate that the telescope is being developed as part of a Chinese Meridian Project (Phase II), a ground-based space environment monitoring network.
The Chinese Meridian Project also includes the Mingantu interplanetary scintillation telescope, which is being assessed in Inner Mongolia. The facility will have 100 dishes in a three-arm spiral arrangement, which according to space.com, will study the sun in a wider band of frequencies than DSRT.
Wu Junwei from the National Space Science Centre, who is supervising the project told China News Service, “The DSRT will be the world’s largest circular array for solar radio imaging, and enable more accurate observation of coronal mass ejections.”
Researchers have developed a unique algorithm to optimise the observations by the dishes.
The observatory is being developed as part of the astronomy and archaeology park in Daocheng, which is estimated at 7 billion yuan ($1.04 billion). The DSRT will therefore remain open to the public. The development is being led by the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.