With plans to venture deep into space from the permanently shadowed regions of the moon to the flying objects in the asteroid, China is smoothly progressing when it comes to space exploration. Beijing has now added one more facility to unpack the universe, its ring of telescopes is ready to explore the secrets of the Sun.
China has completed the construction of the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) on the Tibetan Plateau and the trial runs of the facility are expected to begin in June next year. Built at an estimated cost of $14 million, the observatory will be used to study the Sun and explore its effects on space and Earth’s environment.
The facility is a network of 313 dishes spanning six meters wide that will study the sun in detail. With a circumference of 3.14 kilometers, the telescope will image the Sun in radio waves and observe not just large eruptions, but also the changing activity of the stars in our solar system.
The telescope has been developed as part of the ground-based space environment monitoring network dubbed the Chinese Meridian Project (Phase II). The project also includes the Mingantu interplanetary scintillation telescope, which is being assessed in Inner Mongolia with 100 dishes in a three-arm spiral arrangement.
The Daocheng telescope, meanwhile, will focus on understanding the mechanisms that cause the Coronal Mass Ejections, which come 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.
The large arrays of the telescope will enable it to capture weaker signals from high-energy particles. “With this information, we may be able to forecast whether and when coronal mass ejections will reach Earth. DSRT’s observation data will be made available to international researchers,” Jingye Yan, the chief engineer of DSRT at the National Space Science Center, told Nature.
The Tibetan plateau was chosen for establishing the telescope since it is the highest plateau on Earth, with an average elevation of over 4,000 meters. This elevation provides photometric conditions for observation, with an extremely arid climate and unusually clear local sky.