Executive Intelligence Review


Prototype Radio Telescope for International Square Kilometer Array Unveiled in China

Feb. 19, 2018 (EIRNS)—China has completed the first final prototype radio telescope dish for the international Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project. It was proudly unveiled on Feb. 6 in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, by the Vice Minister of Science and Technology. The Array, which will be made up of several thousand radio telescope dishes, will be placed in South Africa and Australia. The international consortium which is funding the project includes China, Australia, Canada, South Africa, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Britain.

The project, which has attracted scientists and engineers from about 20 countries, will combine signals from collecting dishes placed at wide geographic distances, to create the most sensitive radio telescope in the world—50 times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Chinese prototype incorporates hardware and critical electronics from Germany and Italy which are responsible for moving and pointing the telescopes. The 54th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corp. built the structural assembly for the dish, and is responsible for integrating the hardware and doing the testing. The fully assembled 15-meter diameter prototype dish will be tested before being put into production.

A second telescope prototype is also being built in China, funded by the German Max Planck Society. It will be shipped to South Africa and assembled there in the next few months, to conduct real astronomical observations for the first time. Both of the prototypes are the final precursors for a series of up to six SKA dishes, which will comprise an Early Production Array, to be built on site beginning in 2019. This small, initial array is designed to demonstrate the coordination among multiple dishes.