China’s FAST opens global application channel for free observation projects in 2024

China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest single-dish and most sensitive radio telescope, has announced that the application channel for free observation projects for the 2024 observation season will open to the world from Saturday. 

FAST, or the “China Sky Eye,” is currently accepting applications for the observation season which runs from August 2024 to July 2025, with the deadline for submissions set for May 15, 2024, at 12am Beijing time, according to multiple Chinese media reports. 

According to Sun Chun, a measurement and control engineer at FAST, scientists from around the globe can apply for their observation projects for the 2024 season through this channel, state-owned broadcaster CCTV reported on Friday. 

FAST has received applications from 15 foreign countries and approved a total of nearly 900 hours of observation access for foreign research teams since March 31, 2021, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

The 15 countries include Germany, Italy and France, and the applications mainly involve fast radio burst observations, pulsar observations, and neutral hydrogen surveys, Sun said. 

Currently, FAST is carrying out observation tasks related to pulsar search, pulsar timing, neutral hydrogen surveys, and fast radio bursts. With its ultra-high sensitivity, as of the beginning of this year, FAST has monitored over 890 pulsars, more than three times the total number monitored by similar telescopes abroad during the same period. 

FAST, which officially began operations in January 2020, has already completed its fourth scientific observation season. It is known that since its operation, FAST has observed celestial phenomena for no less than 5,000 hours each year. 

Located in a deep and round karst depression in Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, FAST officially opened to international scientists on March 31, 2021. With the accumulation of observation time, FAST’s various scientific achievements have become public, and the telescope has now entered a stage of producing multiple results.