China's telescope array in Antarctica starts search for Earth-like planets

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A small Chinese telescope array mounted in Antarctica has started operation to observe exoplanets or Earth-like planets, according to a news release by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on Wednesday.

The facility, consisting of four optical telescopes and a near-infrared one, has been installed at China's Zhongshan Station during the country's 38th Antarctic scientific expedition.

Xuelong and Xuelong 2, China's two polar icebreakers, set off last November from Shanghai for the expedition and returned in April.

The telescope array is set on an equatorial mount, and the aperture of the four telescopes in the optical band is 150 mm and the near-infrared one 200 mm, according to CAS.

Antarctica is believed to be an advantageous site for astronomical surveys. China has already installed two Antarctic survey telescopes, AST3-1 and AST3-2, on the Antarctic continent. 

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