China wants to build the largest optical telescope in Asia to rival America’s James Webb Space Telescope.
Peking University’s project aims to create a ground-based telescope that will span 6.7 meters by 2024 — and would expand to 26.2 meters by 2030. The venture is called the Expanding Aperture Segmented Telescope (EAST).
The EAST project would build a 19.7-foot mirror made of 18 hexagonal mirror segments for the first phase; the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has a hexagonal mirror that is 6.5 meters wide.
A statement of Peking University said the telescope “will significantly improve the observing capabilities of China’s optical astronomy.”
China wants to build the largest optical telescope in Asia to rival America’s James Webb Space Telescope. Above: A diagram of the telescope released by Peking University
Most of the existing optical telescopes – operated by the US, Europe or Japan – are located in the Western Hemisphere – located in Chile, Hawaii or off the coast of northwest Africa.
Unlike the JWST, which orbits 1 million miles away from Earth at the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, the Chinese optical telescope would be built on Saishiteng Mountain near the town of Lenghu in Qinghai province on the Tibetan Plateau. at an elevation of about 4,800 feet.
For the second phase of the project, another ring of 18 hexagonal segments would be added, increasing its diameter to 26.2 feet by 2030 — that size would make it a bit bigger than the JWST.
Peking University estimates the cost of the project to be $69 to $84 million. A report from Qinghai News in November.
The EAST project is the latest example of China’s push to challenge US and Western dominance in space efforts.
China completed construction in November of the world’s largest array of telescopes that will aim directly at the sun to study how its behavior affects Earth.
Located on a plateau in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) consists of 313 dishes. Each has a diameter of 6.7 meters and together they form a circle with a circumference of 3.1 kilometers.
The massive $14 million array of science machines is intended to study solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) — both of which can negatively impact electronics, power grids and satellites.
A CME is a huge cloud of electrically charged particles that is heated to super-high temperatures and then ejected at a burst of speed by the energy released in a solar flare.
“We can predict whether a solar storm will hit Earth,” said Wu Lin, deputy chief designer of the Ring Array Solar Radio Imaging Telescope Project.
Unlike the JWST (above), which orbits 1 million miles away from Earth at the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, the Chinese optical telescope would be built on Saishiteng Mountain near the town of Lenghu in Qinghai province.
“If it bursts towards Earth and will reach us, we can give early warning of such a solar storm. In this way, we can make predictions about the space environment for the normal operation of satellites in space and power grids on the ground,” CCTV+ told Space.com.
China also revealed potential lunar landing sites near the moon’s south pole in September that overlap with the U.S. landing site plan for its Artemis 3 mission in late 2025.
A Chinese magazine article on possible landing sites, written by Chang’e-4 lunar mission commander Zhang He and others, lists 10 sites. Artemis 3 and Chang’e-7 both identify locations near the Shackleton, Haworth, and Nobile craters as potential landing zones.
NASA called on China to remain “open and transparent” with its moon missions after the revelations.
“Just as the moon’s south pole is of scientific interest to NASA, it is of scientific interest to other countries as well, so overlap in potential landing areas is to be expected,” NASA told DailyMail.com.
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