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China installs largest optical telescope in Antarctica

China,Science/Tech, Thu, 19 Apr 2012 IANS

Beijing, April 19 (IANS) A Chinese expedition team to Antarctica has finished installing and testing the largest optical telescope in the snow-capped region, experts said.


The AST3-1 Antarctic Survey Telescope was installed by researchers from China's 28th Antarctic scientific expedition team, Xinhua reported.


The AST3-1 is China's first domestically-produced automatic unmanned telescope, capable of conducting surveys of supernova and other extra-solar bodies.


"It's 4.5 metres tall, making it the largest optical telescope in Antarctica," said Li Zhengyang, a member of the expedition team.


In January 2008, China installed the CSTAR optical telescope group at "Dome A" on the Antarctic Plateau, one of the coldest places on Earth.


The telescope group has collected large amounts of astronomic data over the last four years, according to the expedition team.


Another two optical telescopes will be installed in 2013 and 2014, according to the team's deputy head Yuan Xiangyan.


"China started late in Antarctic astronomic exploration, but it has made great progress. Since we took advantage of the observation point at Dome A, more countries have expressed willingness to cooperate with us," Yuan said.


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