According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), China is constructing the world’s largest array of telescopes designed to study the Sun.
The Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) will assist scientists in better understanding coronal mass ejections, which are huge solar eruptions that have the potential to impair worldwide satellite communications.
A large 313-dish array of telescopes
The DSRT is currently being built on a plateau in southwest China’s Sichuan province. The huge telescope array, when completed, will have a radius of 1.95 miles (3.14 kilometers) and 313 dishes, each having a diameter of 19.7 feet (6 meters). The radio waves will be used to observe the Sun using the telescope array.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are huge plasma and magnetic field expulsions from the Sun’s surface, known as the corona. They send waves of highly charged particles out into the Solar System. The Earth’s magnetic field shields us from these solar flares in general, but exceptionally powerful CMEs have the ability to knock down electrical equipment, including internet infrastructure and satellites. The Sun is currently in the active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, which means that massive CMEs are more likely to occur.
In 1989, for example, a solar storm knocked out the power to almost 6 million people in and around Québec for nine hours. It even brought the Toronto Stock Exchange to a stop for three hours by interfering with what was supposed to be a “fault-tolerant” computer.
Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, recently cautioned that we are now much more reliant on electrical infrastructure than ever before and that a similar outage impacting worldwide internet infrastructure might cost $7.2 billion each day.
China’s new research will investigate the Sun.
According to the SCMP, the DSRT’s construction is on track to be completed this year. According to Space.com, the telescope array is part of China’s larger plans for a ground-based space environment monitoring network known as the Chinese Meridian Project.