Trial operations begin for China’s new radio array for observing the Sun

Engineers have begun trial operations for a almost two-mile diameter antenna array in China designed to observe the Sun.

The Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) consists of 313 dishes, each with a diameter of 19.7 feet (6 meters), forming a circle with a circumference of 1.95 miles (3.14 kilometers). A 328-feet-high (100 m) calibration tower stands in the center of the ring. The array has undergone half a year of debugging and testing, demonstrating the capability to consistently and reliably monitor solar activity with high precision. Trial operations officially started July 14, according to CCTV News.

This design is a variation of the VLA radio antenna in New Mexico, which has 28 antennas arranged not in a circle but in a Y-configuration that can be extended or shortened. That additional capability is probably why VLA is focused on astronomical observations, not just the Sun.

China completes construction of world’s largest solar radio telescope array

China has now completed the construction of world’s largest solar radio telescope array, dubbed the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT), made up of 313 separate radio dishes laid out in a giant two-mile wide circle.

DSRT is focused on observing solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which can interfere with or overload electronics and wreak havoc on and above Earth. CMEs are triggered by realignments in the star’s magnetic field that occur in sunspots, and when directed at Earth, can threaten power grids, telecommunications, orbiting satellites and even put the safety of astronauts aboard the International Space Station and China’s newly-completed Tiangong space station at risk.

Assuming China shares the data from this telescope with the rest of the world, it will function as a back-up to several very old NOAA satellites in orbit that NOAA has failed to replace. If China doesn’t share the data, however, the western world will become very vulnerable should its own satellites finally fail.