China builds world’s largest solar telescope system

(ORDO NEWS) — This is a huge array of telescopes with a diameter of more than six kilometers. In China, the construction of the Daocheng radio telescope has been completed. It is spread out on a plateau in Sichuan province in southwest China, consists of 313 “plates” with a diameter of six meters each and forms a circle with a diameter of 6.35 kilometers.

After tuning and preliminary testing, this array will begin pilot operation in June 2023. The main purpose of the telescope is to observe solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can destroy electronics around the world and cause communication outages.

Aimed at the EarthCAMs, caused by changes in our star’s magnetic field occurring in sunspots, could threaten power grids, telecommunications, satellites in orbit, and even the safety of astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

“With this system, we will be able to predict whether a solar storm will break through to Earth. If this happens, we will issue an early warning of such a solar storm. Thus, we will be able to provide forecasts of the space environment for the normal operation of satellites in space and power systems on earth,” Wu Lin, Deputy Chief Designer of the project.

On the other hand, solar flares and CMEs are responsible for the colorful auroral phenomena that can be observed in the night sky near polar latitudes. The presence of observatories in China will also provide important data on solar activity that telescopes in other time zones may not see.

“We are entering a golden age of solar astronomy as we have many large solar telescopes,”explains Maria Kazachenko, researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Daocheng is a component of China’s Meridian Project, a two-stage ground-based space environment monitoring network. The first phase of the project (Phase I) involves the deployment of 15 observation stations located approximately along longitude 120° east and latitude 30° north.

The second phase of the project (Phase II) will include the establishment of 16 stations to better cover the territory of China, as well as the development of stereo monitoring capabilities to track the causes and effects of the space weather chain in the solar-terrestrial system.

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