China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in Southwest China's Guizhou Province, the world's largest filled-aperture radio telescope, will be available to astronomers from both China and abroad, which experts say will provide a major boost to research of the cosmos.
Test runs and debugging operations are still being conducted on FAST and testing is expected to be completed in 2019, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday, noting that some parameters have already met or surpassed design standards.
The enormous radio telescope began searching the skies after construction was completed in September 2016. FAST has already discovered 44 new pulsars.
"It is normal for such a huge facility to undergo testing and trials for more than two years. The achievements it has made show the design and construction are both of high quality," Jiao Weixin, a space science professor at Peking University told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Following common international practice FAST will be available to Chinese scientists, and astronomers from around the world. The move will make full use of the facility's potential in gathering scientific data and will accelerate research," Jiao said.
Built in a natural and remote basin in Guizhou's Pingtang county, FAST first detected the pulsar J1859-0131 which is more than 16,000 light years away from earth.
FAST, was equipped with a new receiver in June, expanding its ability to observe deep-space targets, Xinhua reported.
A 19-beam receiver was installed in the FAST in May to make it faster and more efficient in detecting pulsars, being capable of discovering pulsars five to six times faster, Science and Technology Daily reported.