The leadership of the People's Republic of China likes large-scale projects. And in general in this country everything is great – huge cities with millions of inhabitants, a huge number of roads and junctions, the richest economy that continues to grow, although not at such a fast pace as before. Recently, the list of achievements of China has replenished with one more – scientists and engineers built the largest radio telescope in the world. Its diameter is 200 meters more than the diameter of the previous record holder from Arecibo Observatory.
Now the system passes the latest tests, and it will start working in September. The project cost was $ 180 million. The project took several years – the work began in 2011. Interestingly, the Chinese plan to make their telescope accessible to everyone – at least for astronomers, whose research is important for science.
The radio telescope is built in a sparsely populated region, in the south-central region of China. Despite the fact that there are not so many people here, the government had to resettle 2,029 families because of this project. This is done so that people are not exposed to powerful radio waves. In total, the resettlement affected 9,110 people, each of whom received compensation in the amount of $ 1,800 (in equivalent).
After the creation of the telescope, it suddenly became clear that there is no specialist in the country with the experience necessary for the management of such a giant. For this reason, Chinese scientists turned to the international community for help. The request consists in the necessity to find the right specialist who could easily manage the entire infrastructure created and, accordingly, the scientists who participate in the project. The publication on the search for a specialist was posted on many resources in May, but the right person is still not found.
The reason, in general, is clear. The fact is that the candidate must have a minimum of 20 years of experience in the field of radio astronomy, and not in the ordinary position, but as a leader. Also, the potential leader of the Chinese observatory must meet a number of other criteria, including the doctoral degree, as well as professorships at one of the world's leading universities.
According to experts, there are no more than 40 astronomers in the world that meet the requirements of the Chinese. The fact is that radio astronomy is quite a specific branch. It is not as large as the others, and there are not so many professionals here either. All of them are in demand and work in the best observatories of the world. This is an interesting work, which, to all, is also paid well. True, the Chinese are ready to offer about $ 1 million a year for a specialist who would agree to go to work for them. But since there are still no responses to the vacancy, probably the scientists who meet the criteria of the Chinese do not want to move to a new place.
"I'm sure they will find someone. But most American astronomers do not want to work abroad. For example, it was difficult to find people for La Sirena, I do not understand this, considering how beautiful and how friendly the Chileans are here, "said Santsev, one of the participants in the project The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Then there was a similar problem – the telescope was built, but people were difficult to work with.
The scientific community raised questions about the need to create a radio telescope while discussing the project. The thing is that this is a passive "dish" that is unable to send radio signals, unlike the radio telescope in Arecibo. The diameter of the Chinese system is 200 meters greater than that of the telescope from Arecibo (500 meters instead of 300 meters). But the effective size of FAST is 400 meters, so the difference here is not so great. The Arecibo system, thanks to its ability to send radio signals, is an effective tool for detecting asteroids in the immediate vicinity of the earth. FAST does not have such an opportunity.
However, the search for the candidate continues. Perhaps an expert who will come to the place of the project manager will be able to prove that FAST is an extremely important tool that can do a lot in skillful hands.