Argentina and China will build the largest radio telescope in South America: why and when will it be finished
The device, which will be called CART, will be installed in the province of San Juan and is part of the recent understandings with the eastern power
02/14/2022 – 9:38 p.m.
Argentina and China are about to take a new key step in the strategic cooperation that President Alberto Fernández sought to strengthen in his last visit to Beijing. Both nations will build the CART (China-Argentina Radio Telescope), an installation 40 meters high and weighing 1,000 tons, which will place our country in a place of relevance worldwide for astronomical studies.
Currently the largest radio telescope in the world is located in the province of Guizhou, southwest China, and is more than half a kilometer in diameter and is known as FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope).
The project for the construction of the CART radio telescope in Argentina began to be discussed in 2004 between both nations and is one step away from becoming a reality: if there are no changes in the calendar, on March 27, containers will depart from Beijing to the port of Buenos Aires with telescope parts.
The parts of the telescope will be transferred from Buenos Aires to the Astronomical Complex the little lionlocated in the department of Calingasta, west of San Juan.
The center is operated by the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), the National University of La Plata, the National University of Córdoba, and the National University of San Juan (UNSJ).
The construction of the base platform of the structure was completed in December 2020, but the progress of the work was slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic. After the arrival of the parts, it is planned to proceed with the assembly of the radio telescope, which will require a year of work and will be carried out by Chinese and German technicians.
The new radio telescope will place Argentina at the forefront of astronomical research.
What will the CART radio telescope be used for?
“The CART will position San Juan in a place of importance worldwide within the best scientific centers,” said the then Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Innovation of San Juan, Tulio del Bono, at the start of the works. of the base in 2020.
The main task of the radio telescope will be to geodesic studies —to capture through precise measurements the movements of tectonic plates— and georeferencing.
According to the Argentine Government, the project will also contribute to the establishment and maintenance of the International Celestial and Terrestrial Reference Frame and will improve the global coverage of the radio telescope network.
Radio astronomy studies the Universe from the electromagnetic radiation emitted by celestial bodies in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, according to the UNSJ, these signals are usually “weak”, so large antennas or groups of antennas working together are required to detect them.
Due to this, the installation of the CART will set a precedent for astronomy studies not only in Argentina, but throughout the region. This, because at present, the vast majority of radio telescopes are concentrated in the northern hemisphere.
China operates the FAST, which is the world’s largest radio telescope, on its territory.
The CART is expected to work jointly with projects such as LLAMA, a radio telescope, although smaller in size, which is the product of an Argentine-Brazilian agreement and will operate from the Puna de Atacama in the province of Salta.
The international project is in charge of the Félix Aguilar Astronomical Observatory (OAFA), the National University of San Juan (UNSJ), the Conicet and the National Astronomy Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), says Sputnik.
CART: what each part of the radio telescope does
The CART radio telescope will have four parts: an antenna, a positioning system, a receiver, and a data acquisition or processing system.
- Antenna: is responsible for collecting the signals received from the area studied.
- Positioning system: directs the antenna towards the area to be studied.
- Receiver: receives the energy taken by the antenna and conditions it at adequate levels for recording.
- Data processing: it is executed through a computer system that will later be studied by astronomers.
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