China installs largest optical telescope in Antarctica

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China has finished installing and testing the AST3-1 Antarctic Survey Telescope in Antarctica, researchers from China's 28th Antarctic scientific expedition team said Wednesday.

Technicians are tunning up the AST3-1 Antarctic Survey Telescope. [Photo: Chinese Center for Antarctic Astronomy]

The AST3-1 is China's first domestically produced automatic unmanned telescope, capable of conducting surveys of supernovae and other extrasolar bodies.

"It's 4.5 meters tall, making it the largest optical telescope in Antarctica," said Li Zhengyang, a member of the scientific expedition team.

In January 2008, China installed the CSTAR optical telescope group at "Dome A" on the Antarctic Plateau, one of the coldest places on Earth. The telescope group has collected large amounts of astronomic data over the last four years, according to the expedition team.

Another two optical telescopes will be installed in 2013 and 2014, respectively, according to the team's deputy head Yuan Xiangyan.

"China started late in Antarctic astronomic exploration, but it has made great progress. Since we took advantage of the observation point at Dome A, more countries have expressed willingness to cooperate with us," Yuan said.

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