China’s ‘Sky Eye’ to open to global scientific community from April 1
Published: Jan 04, 2021 04:58 PM

Panoramic photo taken on Jan. 11, 2020 shows China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) under maintenance in southwest China's Guizhou Province. China completed commissioning of the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope on Saturday, putting it into formal operation after a productive three-year trial. The telescope will gradually open to astronomers around the globe, providing them with a powerful tool to uncover the mysteries surrounding the genesis and evolutions of the universe. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)

The 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST), also known as China's Tianyan or "Sky Eye," will open to the global scientific community and accept observation applications from scientists around the world starting from April 1.

Foreign scientists can submit applications to China's National Astronomical Observatories online, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Observation time will be allocated from August 1, after the applications are reviewed by the scientific committee and the time allocation committee of FAST. Approximately 10 percent of the observation time will be allocated to the global astronomy community this year, said Jiang Peng, chief engineer and executive deputy director of the FAST Operation and Development Center.

Located in Pingtang county, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, FAST is currently the world's largest single-dish radio telescope. Its reflective surface area is equivalent in size to about 30 standard football pitches, reports said. 

FAST was completed in 2016 and started formal operation on January 11, 2020. As of November, it has discovered more than 240 pulsars, the National Astronomical Observatories announced.

It is also now the only "sky eye" that humans can use to observe cosmic waves, following the 305-meter iconic Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in the US, which retired in November 2020 due to a broken cable and insufficient funding, finally collapsing on December 1.