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27th of June 2016
Science Innovation
by Douglas Bock (CASS)
The multibeam receiver CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) is building for China's 500-m Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) - shown above - has grown from work we started decades ago. Traditionally, a single-dish telescope such as Parkes sees only one spot - one pixel - on the sky at any one time, and pictures must be built up by repeated scanning. The development of a "multibeam" (13 beams !!) receiver turbocharged Parkes, letting us scan the sky in less than a tenth of the usual time. It led Parkes to discover hundreds of new galaxies hidden behind the Milky Way and, more recently, Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs).

For the receiver on FAST, we're providing proven technology rather than the very cutting edge. But it's going into a telescope that's even more sensitive than our 64-m Dish. FAST will start operations soon, searching for pulsars, looking for radio signals from extra-solar planets, and measuring hydrogen in our own galaxy and tens of thousands of others.

To stay scientifically competitive, telescopes must have the latest technology. The telescope you see - the giant steel dish - will probably look much the same for decades. But behind the scenes, generation after generation of new instruments will be installed to analyse the incoming radio waves.

The full article was published in The Conversation on 23 Jun 2016.

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