Advancements in technology are so frequent as to be almost hard to comprehend. While the United States paces the West with space tech advancements, China is doing their thing out East. It was recently announced that China is planning on crafting the largest steerable radio telescope on the planet. This telescope is known as the Xinjiang Qitai and it will stand 110-meters in size. The goal of this telescope, as you will read below, is to help advance the search for certain rare subjects throughout the universe: dark matter, extraterrestrial intelligence and gravitational waves.
Doug Vakoch is the President at METI International and he was uniquely informed to speak on the subject of the Xinjiang Qitai. Vakoch and METI International focus on organizing efforts to search for life throughout the universe while also figuring out ways to broadcast our own existence to possible listening ears. Vakoch said of the Xinjiang Qitai (QTT), “The QTT’s scientific mission is ambitious.” Vakoch went on to compliment the idea by saying that advancements with this kind of technology tend to lead to ‘radical discoveries’.
If there is any country in the world suited for this mission, China would clearly be at the top of the list. China already has the largest radio telescope in the world, known as the FAST. The FAST stands for 500 Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope. The FAST has been working since 2016 and it was built into the Chinese landscape around it, much like the Arecibo Telescope located in Puerto Rico. Vakoch commented on The FAST by pointing out how its fixed position can “point to a limited extent” before admitting that the massive telescope is stuck to about “40 degrees of zenith.” Vakoch’s praise of the FAST only serves to paint how important the QTT will be once it is up and operational. If the QTT can live up to its design, we should be able to see much more fascinating results.
The QTT will be constructed in Xinjiang which is located in Northwest China. The QTT will only be a little bit bigger than the FAST but the added mobility will completely change how the telescope operates. Vakoch makes the size comparison of the QTT to a pizza, noting that even a slight extension in size can dramatically change how many slices you are doling out during dinner. These are exciting times and Vakoch’s words should be inspiring to say the least.