China set to build world-class observatory in Tibet

China is planning to build a world-class observatory on the roof of the world - in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region.

| Updated on: Jan 12 2005, 23:30 IST

China is planning to build a world-class observatory on the 'roof of the world' -- in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region, the state media reported on Wednesday.

A preliminary survey has found that 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 calibre up to 100 meters, said Ai Guoxiang, who heads the National Astronomical Observatories.

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.

'The crown of 21st century's ground-based astronomy will be on China if further investigation proves the same,' Xinhua news agency quoted Ai as saying.

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 calibre of 10 meters,' he said.

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

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First Published Date: 11 Jan, 19:41 IST