Where Is the Largest Satellite Dish Located?

Where Is the Largest Satellite Dish Located?

The title of the largest satellite dish in the world belongs to the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), located in a natural basin in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, China. Completed in 2016, FAST is not only a marvel of modern engineering but also a giant leap forward in the field of radio astronomy. This article delves into the specifics of FAST, exploring its capabilities, construction, and the significant role it plays in astronomical research.

Where Is the Largest Satellite Dish Located?
Where Is the Largest Satellite Dish Located?

Design and Dimensions

FAST is an astonishing feat of engineering, boasting a diameter of 500 meters (1,640 feet), making it the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the world. Unlike other large dishes, which are typically constructed from a solid surface, FAST consists of 4,450 individual panels. These panels are precisely positioned to form a part of a larger parabolic reflector.

Unique Structural Features:

  • Adjustable Panels: Each triangular panel can be adjusted by computer-controlled actuators, allowing the dish to change shape and focus on different areas of the sky.
  • High Precision: The accuracy of the surface is maintained within a few millimeters, critical for capturing weak signals from distant cosmic sources.

Construction and Technology

The construction of FAST was a monumental task that required innovative solutions and technologies. Located in a naturally occurring depression, the site provides natural protection against electromagnetic noise, enhancing the telescope’s sensitivity.

Innovative Construction Techniques:

  • Use of Natural Topography: The unique use of a natural basin allowed for minimal environmental impact and lower construction costs compared to other large-scale antenna projects.
  • Advanced Materials: High-strength steel and aluminum alloys were used to construct the supporting structure, ensuring durability and resistance to the elements.

Scientific Objectives and Discoveries

FAST was designed with several scientific goals in mind, including the study of pulsars, detection of interstellar molecules, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

Key Research Areas:

  • Pulsar Observation: FAST's sensitive receivers allow it to detect and study pulsars with unprecedented precision, providing insights into the fundamental laws of physics.
  • Spectral Line Surveys: The telescope is equipped to conduct spectral line surveys, critical for understanding the chemical composition and physical conditions of interstellar space.
  • Search for Extraterrestrial Signals: As part of SETI, FAST scans for signals that might indicate the presence of advanced alien civilizations.

Impact on Global Astronomy

FAST significantly enhances China's capabilities in radio astronomy, putting it at the forefront of astronomical research. The telescope's ability to detect faint signals from the far reaches of the universe offers the potential for groundbreaking discoveries in cosmology, galactic evolution, and fundamental physics.


The largest satellite dish, located in Guizhou, China, stands as a testament to human ingenuity and the quest for understanding the universe. FAST not only sets new standards in the field of radio astronomy but also promises to expand our knowledge of the cosmos, offering a window into the phenomena that shape our universe. As it continues to operate, we can expect a stream of valuable data and potentially transformative discoveries that could answer some of the most profound questions about the nature of the universe and our place within it.

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