Southwest China's Guizhou Province, home to the world's largest single-dish radio telescope FAST, will apply to build an Asian center for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) this year.
An array is a collection of telescopes and instruments spread over a wide area, working in concert with one another. The SKA is an international effort by 20 countries, including China, to build the world's largest radio telescope using arrays.
Australia and South Africa have already started work on their arrays.
Construction of the SKA proper is expected to begin this year with observations commencing in 2020.
The SKA will be able to detect faint radio waves from deep space with a sensitivity about 50 times greater than that of the orbiting Hubble telescope. Individual radio telescopes will be linked to create a total collecting area of about 1 million square meters.
Guizhou's science and technology department together with the Gui'an New Area hope to build an SKA Asian center in the province, taking advantage of the preeminence of FAST in the field.
Guizhou, one of the least developed regions in China, has become a leader in big data with a suitable climate, power supply and network infrastructure. Apple and Huawei have big data centers there.
"The SKA will generate at least 1,000 times more data than FAST," said Zhi Qijun, head of the school of physics and electronic science, Guizhou Normal University. "The SKA will be a challenge to both software and hardware of big data centers as it sets much higher requirement for transmission, storage, and processing."
Hosting the SKA Asian center could take Guizhou to the very front of the big data industry, Zhi added.