China to set up the World's Highest Altitude Gravitational Wave Telescopes in Tibet

By Vishal Goel, | January 08, 2017

The project was initiated by a host of institutes including the Institute of High Energy Physics, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem, and the National Astronomical Observatories. (LIGO)

The project was initiated by a host of institutes including the Institute of High Energy Physics, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem, and the National Astronomical Observatories. (LIGO)

China is building the world's highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet, close to the country's Line of Actual Control with India. With a budget of 130 million yuan ($ 18.8 million) for the project, the building of the telescopes is aimed at detecting and gathering precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.

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The construction of the first telescope, code-named Ngari No. 1, has started 30 kilometers south of the Shiquanhe Town in Ngari Prefecture, said Yao Yongqiang chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, is expected to be operational by 2021, Xinhua news agency reported.

The second phase, the time frame of which has not been decided yet, involves the construction of a series of telescopes, code-named Ngari No. 2, to be located about 6,000 meters above sea level, added Yao.

The project was initiated by a host of institutes including the Institute of High Energy Physics, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem, National Astronomical Observatories, and Information Technology.

Ngari was chosen because of its high altitude, clear sky, and minimal human activity. It is said to be one of the world's best spots to detect tiny twists in cosmic light. The Ngari observatory will be among the world's top primordial gravitational wave observation bases. The other being the South Pole Telescope and the facility in Chile's Atacama Desert.

In similar news, China commissioned the world's largest radio telescope in the mountainous region of southwest China's Guizhou Province in September to search for more strange objects in space, gain a better understanding of the origin of the universe, and to boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life. The installation of the telescope's main structure - a 4,450-panel reflector as large as 30 football pitches - was carried out at a unique valley in the Guizhou Province.

Gravitational waves, first proposed by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity about 100 years ago, were proved by scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, spurring fresh research interest.

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