China launches world’s largest radio telescope, but hard to find researchers

Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), China’s mega-science project and the world’s largest single-dish radio observatory, officially began operations on Saturday, according to a report by the Xinhua News Agency.

Members from the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced on Saturday that the main performance indicators of FAST have reached the international leading level, and is ready to function.

Jiang Peng, a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory and chief engineer of FAST believes the starting of operation indicates FAST has entered a full-fledged scientific research stage and is ready to produce important scientific outputs in the next few years, while it will further stabilize the performance of the telescope.

Located in a deep depression in Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, FAST was established in September 2016. Once rolled into operation, scientists and astronomers from more than 10 countries have proposed ambitious plans to make use of the telescope, such as detecting gravitational waves, exoplanets, ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, and interstellar matter, reported Xinhua News Agency.

However, with an annual salary of 100,000 yuan ($14,380), recruiting resident researchers who will be based in the remote FAST site in a Southwest China’s Guizhou Province is far from ideal, according to the project’s general office director Zhang Shuxin, quoted from Science and Technology Daily.