Robots to assist world's largest telescope FAST in Guizhou

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FAST, the world's largest single-dish radio telescope. [Photo/Xinhua]

An army of robots will assist with the daily operation and maintenance of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, in Guizhou Province, said Lin Hao, deputy head of the province's Science and Technology Department.

Lin said the department has secured support from the Ministry of Science and Technology to develop an intelligent operational system, to be jointly created by top teams across the country. The robots will perform a broad range of tasks, including weed control on the slope and automatic interference detection.

The central government will earmark no less than 50 million yuan for the project, which will also receive additional support from Guizhou. 

Intelligent security systems will be installed to monitor possible electromagnetic interference in real time in the core, a radio-quiet zone of the telescope, which has discovered 55 new pulsars since it started operation in 2016, he said. 

FAST is expected to complete national review and acceptance procedures by the end of September. Among the 16 acceptance parameters, 12 indicators have already met or exceeded national criteria.

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