China's FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope) radio telescope, also known as the Sky Eye, will open to the global scientific community on April 1. The observatory will accept applications for observations from scientists all over the world.
FAST is now considered the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world. Its area is equivalent to nearly 30 standard football fields. This giant telescope is used to detect pulsars along with other high-energy astronomical bodies. FAST will also be used to search for extraterrestrial life sometimes.
The FAST radio telescope was built in 2016, and its official operations started on January 11, 2020 (although it has already worked until then). Since then, only Chinese scientists have had access to FAST, but now other scientists will be able to take advantage of the telescope.
Researchers will have an opportunity to submit online applications to the National Astronomical Observatory of China. According to chief engineer of FAST Jiang Peng, the world community will be allocated 10% of the total observation time this year.
The FAST radio telescope has already collected data on 240 pulsars. Moreover, it is now the only telescope for observing cosmic waves.
After the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has happened recently, FAST remains the only telescope that can perform certain types of observations.
The US National Science Foundation shared a video showing the Arecibo platform's collapse. The video confirms that it was not possible to repair the telescope.