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China Hopes to Build World-class Observatory in Tibet

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2005/01/11; January 11, 2005.]

ANGOLA Press

LHASA, 01/11 - A top astronomer said that China may build a world-class observatory on the "roof of the world" -- in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region.

A preliminary survey has found the Sengge Zangbo town in Ngari Prefecture, western Tibet, may be the ideal place to launch the world`s largest and most advanced telescope with a caliber up to 100 meters, said Ai Guoxiang, who heads the National Astronomical Observatories.

"The crown of 21st century`s ground-based astronomy will be on China if further investigation proves the same," said Ai, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

An alternative location for the new observatory could be Taxkorgan county in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, he added.

Chinese scientists will carry out astronomical observations from fixed positions in these two places for a year or two before the final decision is made, according to Ai.

"When the location is confirmed, we`d suggest China cooperate with some Southeastern countries in building an optical/infrared telescope with a caliber of 10 meters," he said.

The astronomer said China is also considering building a new generation telescope with a caliber between 30 and 100 meters through international cooperation. "On whose basis we`ll build the world-class observatory," he said.

Such a large telescope will enable human eyes to see the farthest parts of the universe and help unravel some of the mysteries about the origins of celestial bodies and the entire universe, said He Jinxin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The researcher said the Tibetan town of Sengge Zangbo is an ideal location because it is located on the roof of the world and surrounded by mountains 4,800 meters above sea level. It is quiet, dry and usually has clear night skies.


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