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FPGA Enables The World's Largest Radio Telescope

Posted by Danielle Leger

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Oct 8, 2015 2:30:00 PM

China is building the world's largest radio telescope to detect signs of life billions of light years away in space. The 500-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being built in China. With a dish the size of 30 football fields, it will be the largest radio telescope in the world when it is completed in 2016. Its unique design will allow scientists to gather radio signals from tens of billions of light years away. 


Largest Radio Telescope



Radio telescopes provide different views compared to optical telescopes. They can identify invisible gas and can reveal areas of space that may be covered with cosmic dust. Since the first radio signals from space were discovered back in the 1930's, astronomers have used radio telescopes to explore the Universe by detecting radio waves transmitted by a wide range of objects. Our Sun is a powerful radio emission source, mainly because of how close it is to Earth. But some radio sources, which are billions of light years away, are enormous in terms of their radio output. 


Radio Telescopes are built with electronic components such as Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA and other chips. The telescopes are sensitive to low levels of radiation, so they require an operating environment that is low in electromagnetic interference. The technological advances in Xilinx FPGA reduce operating voltages which in turn help reduce electromagnetic interference. 

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Also, be sure to check out our other FPGA-related blog posts.


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