China's FAST radio telescope will open to international scientists in 2021

With the collapse of the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, international scientists are looking for a new radio telescope to use in their projects. The largest radio telescope in the world is the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang, Guizhou province in China. The telescope became the world's largest radio telescope when it was completed in 2016.

Before its completion, the Arecibo Observatory was the world's largest radio telescope for 53 years. Sadly, the Arecibo Observatory is unrepairable and was shut down permanently. The good news for astronomers and scientists worldwide is China has opened the doors to FAST to scientists around the world. Chief inspector of operations at the radio telescope observatory, Wang Qiming, said that the Chinese scientific committee intends to make FAST increasingly open to the international community.

China intends to accept requests for 2021 from foreign scientists who want to use the instrument for research. FAST has a 1600 foot diameter dish making it larger than Arecibo. It's also reportedly three times as sensitive. China located its telescope in an area surrounded by a three-mile radio silence zone where cell phones and computers aren't allowed.

FAST also drew inspiration from the Arecibo Observatory design, improving its design for the Chinese Observatory. Some radio astronomers in the international community will use China's radio telescope for the research.

However, some research could be too sensitive to be conducted at the Chinese radio observatory due to fears of the Chinese government spying or stealing parts of the research. There is no confirmation of any foreign research that will be conducted at the radio observatory in 2021. The scientific world certainly lost a valuable asset with the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory, which was so famous it appeared in multiple films.