China begins construction of new survey telescope to detect space debris

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The construction of a survey telescope array, which will be mainly used to detect space debris in medium and high orbits, has begun in northwest China's Qinghai Province, taking advantage of the plateau region's clear night skies.

The multi-application survey telescope array, MASTA, developed by the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is under construction in the town of Lenghu, Qinghai, with an average altitude of 3,800 meters above sea level.

Slated for completion by 2023, the telescope's spectrum is expected to fill China's gap in this technology.

"The survey telescope array can detect small space debris and determine its orbit and operation law, thus providing early warnings and making it possible to avoid debris collisions threatening the safety of spacecraft," said Lei Chengming, a researcher at the Purple Mountain Observatory.

Tian Cairang, executive deputy director of the Lenghu Industrial Park Management Committee, said that Lenghu has become an astronomical observation base that now hosts six scientific research units and eight telescope projects. In the future, Lenghu is expected to become the largest astronomical observation base in China and a world-class astronomical research center.

The town, with a total area of 17,800 square km, is located 944 km away from Qinghai's capital of Xining. Its clear nights meet the conditions for a world-class observatory site.

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