Monday, September 26, 2016

Interstellar Space Science: China Brings The World's Largest Radio Dish 'Scope Online

It seems that -- for me -- space science is lately filling the void of the slow news trickle, out of Kenilworth. For we know nature simply abhors a vacuum. And this latest piece of news is anything but that. Smile.

Eclipsing Arecibo (in Puerto Rico) in dish diameter (nearly doubling it) -- and completely blowing it away in overall sky coverage -- this is an engineering marvel.

It positively buries Arecibo on sky coverage because, as opposed to being fixed into the mountain-side, this Chinese FAST radio dish can "gimbal" almost 40 degrees, in any direction by altering the shape of its parabolic dish's curve -- thus covering a much wider swath of sky. [But as we all remember from Billy Bob Thornton in Armageddon, it is "a big a$$ sky. . . ."]

In any event, this stretches our ability to look back in time, to much closer to when the Universe was first born. Courtesy my lovely eldest daughter, via National Public Radio:

. . . .Xinhua reports the telescope cost $180 million, and displaced 8,000 people from their homes to create the necessary 3-mile radius of radio silence around the facility. It will be used for "observation of pulsars as well as exploration of interstellar elements. . . ."

[FAST will also be used to search for] interstellar communication signals, [which] could be more simply referred to as searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life. "In theory, if there is civilization in outer space, the radio signal it sends will be similar to the signal we can receive when a pulsar ... is approaching us," Qian told Chinese state media. . . .

Indeed. [And perhaps one day, at least possibly, we might -- with this device -- hear a signal. One that might suggest we are not alone in this Universe. I firmly believe we are not -- but as a scientist -- I'd like even just a small hint, of some proof of that idea. That is also why I'll be watching the Europa news, this afternoon.] Be excellent to one another -- for at least for now -- we are all we know we have.


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