China constructs gigantic space ‘weather’ monitoring telescope

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HOHHOT, May 11, (Agencies): China’s first gigantic radio telescope dedicated to observing interplanetary scintillation phenomena passed its technical testing process on Friday. The telescope, located in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, will be applied to monitor interplanetary space weather on a daily basis to provide high-quality data for both China’s and international space weather forecasting. Radio waves radiated from compact celestial objects outside the Milky Way can be scattered by the irregular micro-structures of solar wind turbulence as they propagate through interplanetary space, resulting in random fluctuations in the radio flux observed on Earth. Such a phenomenon is called interplanetary scintillation

This image provided by NASA shows a solar flare, as seen in the bright flash in the lower right, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on May 9. (AP)

Notably, interplanetary scintillation can be used to track interplanetary propagation caused by solar storms. “Monitoring interplanetary scintillation can be useful for the reconstruction of the three-dimensional structure of a large-scale solar wind, which is helpful in revealing the correlation between solar eruptive activities and geospace environment changes,” said Yan Yihua, a researcher from the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The development of the abovementioned telescope project was led by the NSSC, and this telescope is one of the key facilities within the mega-framework of the Phase-2 Meridian Space Weather Monitoring Project in China. Interplanetary scintillation observation can help reduce or avoid the harmful impact of disastrous space weather events on aviation, aerospace, communications, navigation and grid operation

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