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China to set up world's highest altitude telescopes at border with India

Highlights
  • Telescopes will be set up to detect faintest echoes resonating from universe, may reveal more about Big Bang Theory
  • At budget of USD 18.8 million, these will be the highest altitude telescopes in the world
  • They will be located in Tibet, close to Line of Actual Control with India

China is setting up the world's highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet, close to Line of Actual Control with India, with a budget of USD 18.8 million to detect faintest echoes resonating from universe which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.

Construction has started for the first telescope, code-named Ngari No 1, 30 km south of Shiquanhe Town in Ngari Prefecture, said Yao Yongqiang chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Parts of Nagri is last Tibetan prefecture at China's border with India.

The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, will detect and gather precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is expected to be operational by 2021, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Yao said the second phase involves a series of telescopes, code-named Ngari No 2, to be located about 6,000 meters above sea level.

He did not give a time frame for construction of Ngari No 2. The budget for the two-phase Ngari gravitational wave observatory is an estimated 130 million yuan (USD 18.8 million).

The project was initiated by the Institute of High Energy Physics, National Astronomical Observatories, and Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, among others, the report said.

Ngari, with its high altitude, clear sky and minimal human activity is said to be one of the world's best spots to detect tiny twists in cosmic light.

Yao said the Ngari observatory will be among the world's top primordial gravitational wave observation bases, alongside the South Pole Telescope and the facility in Chile's Atacama Desert.

Gravitational waves were first proposed by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity 100 years ago, but it wasn't until 2016 that scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory announced proof of the waves' existence, spurring fresh research interest among the world's scientists.

Last September, China commissioned the world's largest radio telescope in a mountainous region of southwest China's Guizhou Province to search for more strange objects space, gain better understand the origin of the universe and to boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.

The installation of the telescope's main structure -- a 4,450-panel reflector as large as 30 football pitches was built at unique valley in Guizhou Province.

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