Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chilean President attend the Signing Ceremony of China-Chile Collaborations to develop Astronomical Observatories in Chile

 

On November 22nd, in Santiago, the capital of Chile, at the witness of Chinese President Xi JinPing and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Prof. Jun Yan, Director General of National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), and Mr. Jorge Tabilo Álvarez, President of the Catholic University of the North (UCN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly develop an Astronomical Observational base in Chile.

 

Due to its outstanding astronomical climate, and the steady support of its government, Chile is a key site for international astronomy research. Over the last few decades, several foreign interests, such as the U.S.A., Japan, and the E.U., have developed observational facilities in the country. The Ventarrones site (VTRS), which belongs to the Catholic University of the North, has been subject to detailed investigation and comparison by the Chinese Academy of Sciences South America Center for Astronomy (CASSACA) and is considered as an excellent site for astronomic observations. The site is located in the famous Atacama Desert, about 1200 KMs north from Santiago, and is at an altitude of 2900 meters.

 

The VTRS site was previously selected as a candidate site for the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) 39 meter European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT, in construction), and its sky quality and conditions have been evaluated and positively confirmed by world-class institutions. In order to promote scientific developments in the field of observational astronomy and related sciences and technology, and to strengthen the collaboration and communication of scientists, engineers, and students between the two countries, NAOC and UCN have agreed to form a bilateral partnership to develop the VTRS site into a world-class scientific research base for observational astronomy. The site is also expected to play an important role in the scientific outreach and education.

 

This event marks the second time these parties have signed a MOU witnessed by both their respective heads of state, the first being the attendance of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the Chilean President in the signing ceremony of China-Chile Joint Astronomical Data Center in 2015. The MOU is also a highlight of and a major milestone in CASSACA’s past three years of work, after its foundation in Chile since 2013. Dr. Jun Yan,the Director General of NAOC, specifically pointed out that developing an observational base in Chile is a strategic step that has been carefully considered by the scientific community, based on the long-term plan for China’s development in the field of astronomy. The official signing of the MOU and its gradual implementation will enable China for the first time to have a world-class site overseas by means of joint development. This will be of great significance to the development of astronomical observation and techniques in China, and it will further promote cooperation and communications between China and Chile in the field.

 

The news that NAOC and UCN will collaborate to develop astronomical observatories in Chile has attracted strong interest in the local community and media. The idea of constructing future observatories in this kind of collaborative way is supported by the Chilean government and local astronomers, who are optimistic in regards to the future development of the project. One major media outlet in Santiago prepared a special report on the signing of the agreement, pointing out that this is a milestone in China’s development of astronomical observations in South America. Dr. Cameron, the director of ESO (Chile), commented in a congratulatory letter that this collaborative approach is an “excellent choice” for China. He also expressed willingness to provide assistance for the future development of the VTRS site.


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习近平主席和智利总统共同见证中智合作建设天文观测基地谅解备忘录签署

当地时间11月22日,在中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平对智利进行国事访问期间,在习主席和智利总统巴切莱特的共同见证下,中国科学院国家天文台台长严俊和智利北方天主教大学校长Jorge Tabilo Álvarez,于智利首都圣地亚哥总统府签署了合作共建天文观测基地的谅解备忘录。

智利凭借其优越的天文气候条件和历届政府对天文事业的重视与稳定支持,几十年来吸引了欧、美、日等多国竞相在智长期发展天文观测设施,成果斐然。目前为智利北方天主教大学(UCN)所拥有的“VTRS台址”(Ventarrones)位于圣地亚哥以北约1200公里的世界著名的阿塔卡马高原沙漠地带,距离UCN大学所在的安市(Antofagasta)约100公里,海拔2900米,是中科院南美天文中心经过认真调研和实地考察,与其它台址进行反复比较后确定的优秀观测台址。它曾经是欧洲南方天文台E-ELT 39米超大望远镜(在建)的备选台址之一,其质量得到国际一流机构的认可,各方面综合条件突出。为了推进天文观测研究和相关领域的科技发展,促进两国科学家、工程师和学生的合作交流,经国家天文台与UCN大学协商,一致同意作为双边合作伙伴,共同把VTRS台址建设和发展成为国际性的现代化天文科研基地,同时对科普教育起到重要作用。

这是继2015年5月李克强总理与智利总统巴切莱特见证中智天文大数据中心建设合作协议签署后又一次在两国领导人见证下签署的中智天文合作谅解备忘录,也是中科院南美天文中心在智利成功运行三年来所致力推进的各项具体工作中的又一亮点及重要节点。严俊台长特别指出,我国立足于天文发展的长期规划,待时机成熟时在智发展观测基地,是一个经过科学界慎重考虑的战略步骤。此备忘录的正式签署以及具体内容的逐步实施,将使我国首次在海外通过共同开发的方式拥有国际一流的观测台址,且其经度和纬度上都与我国本土观测台站优势互补。这对于我国实测天文和天文技术方法的发展具有重大意义,也是我国建设科技强国的标志之一,并将进一步促进和扩大中智双方在天文领域的合作与交流。

中科院国家天文台与智利地方UCN大学合作共建天文观测基地的消息已经在当地引起了社会各界和媒体的高度重视。智利政府有关部门负责人认为这是中智科技合作中具有里程碑意义的大好消息。智利天文学家普遍对中科院国家天文台采取与智利的大学进行合作的方式开始未来的台址建设表示支持并对未来的发展感到乐观。首都圣地亚哥一家主要媒体为协议的签署准备了特别报道,指出这是中方在南美发展天文观测研究进程中精彩的一步。在智有着广泛影响的欧洲南方天文台(智利)台长Cameron先生在其贺信当中盛赞中方的开发计划为一“上佳选择”,并表示愿意为VTRS台址未来的发展提供协助。img_4352

 

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  习近平主席见证中智合作建设天文观测基地谅解备忘录签署


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与习近平主席等国家领导人合影

CONICYT promueve vínculos internacionales para impulsar la investigación colaborativa

El presidente del Consejo de CONICYT, Mario Hamuy; y el director ejecutivo de la institución, Christian Nicolai, han sostenido diversas reuniones destinadas a fortalecer la cooperación científica internacional.

DelegaciónChina

La actividad con la Academia China de Ciencias se enfocó en la voluntad mutua de reforzar los vínculos existentes y de promover nuevos instrumentos de cooperación.

El presidente del Consejo de CONICYT, doctor Mario Hamuy se reunió con directivos de la Academia de Ciencias de China, CAS, para analizar el progreso que ha experimentado la cooperación en ciencia y tecnología entre los dos países. La actividad se enfocó en la voluntad mutua de reforzar los vínculos existentes y de promover nuevos instrumentos de cooperación, en áreas como desastres naturales, astronomía, ciencias de la tierra y energías renovables no convencionales.

La delegación estaba conformada por Liu Huizhou, director del Bureau of Facility Support and Budget, de Chinese Academy of Sciences, CAS; Zheng Xiaonian, deputy director of NAOC (National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences); Yang Weijin, chief engineer, Bureau of Facility Support and Budget, CAS; Ning Bolun, program officer, Office of American & Oceanian Affairs, Bureau of International Cooperation, y Wang Zhong, director de CASSACA, Centro Sudamericano para la Astronomía, de la Academia de Ciencias de China.

Iniciativas como el Memorándum de Entendimiento de Cooperación Científica para el desarrollo de la Astronomía, que ya ha efectuado dos convocatorias, han permitido adjudicar posiciones postdoctorales a jóvenes investigadores con doctorado, mediante la realización de proyectos de investigación en las instituciones chilenas, con la posibilidad de continuar sus proyectos en China.

DelegaciónAlemana

Un grupo de parlamentarios alemanes, integrantes de la Comisión de Educación, Investigación y Evaluación Tecnológica del Parlamento Federal se reunió con el director ejecutivo de CONICYT, Christian Nicolai.

Además recientemente visitó CONICYT un grupo de parlamentarios alemanes, integrantes de la Comisión de Educación, Investigación y Evaluación Tecnológica del parlamento federal de ese país.

Los representantes de diversas formaciones políticas alemanas, Sybille Benning y Tankred Schipanski, de CDU/CSU; Marianne Schieder y Rainer Spiering, de SPD; Kai Gehring, de DIE GRÜNEN y Ralph Lenkert, de DIE LINKE, fueron recibidos por el director ejecutivo Christian Nicolai, en un encuentro en el que se abordaron temas como el sistema de investigación en Chile, sus ejes prioritarios y líneas de trabajo, el financiamiento de la investigación, las condiciones de trabajo en universidades e instituciones de investigación, entre otros.

“智利周”天文专场活动

2016年9月初,智利外交部在华举办了促进中智经贸、文化、科技交流的大型“智利周”活动,天文交流是其中一项重要主题。应“智利周”组委会邀请,智利外交部科技事务主管Juan Carlos Aguirre先生、智利科委天文分部负责人Luis Chavarria博士、智利天文学会主席EzequielTreister教授、智利大学天文系主任Guido Garay教授、智利北方天主教大学Maximiliano Moyano教授,智利圣玛丽亚技术大学Mauricio Solar教授,智利迭戈波特尔斯大学Roberto Assef教授,智利安托法塔斯卡大学Eduardo Unda教授一行于8月28日至9月4日来华参加“智利周”活动。智利天文代表团在华期间,中国科学院国家天文台作为地方主接待单位,协助了代表团的天文交流活动日程安排。

在中国科学院国家天文台副台长薛随建研究员、中国科学院南美天文中心首席科学家黄家声研究员以及智利驻华大使馆领事Eduardo Sliva先生陪同下,代表团拜访了科技部国际合作司和中国科学院国际合作局,在国家天文台、北京大学进行了考察访问和学术交流,并参加了由“智利周”组委会与国家天文台联合举办的天文专场学术报告会。
8月29-30日,智利天文代表团赴贵州参观了500米球面射电望远镜FAST项目大科学工程。FAST项目科学家李菂研究员详细介绍了FAST项目的工程概况、运行管理及科学目标等,智利代表团对FAST的建造水平、技术创新及预期科研等表示由衷的赞叹。9月3日,智利天文代表团访问国家天文台兴隆观测基地,参观了我国大科学工程LAMOST望远镜,对我国现代化观测设备的设计理念和规模表示赞叹。

 

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    参观FAST望远镜合影  LAMOST望远镜参观访问兴隆观测站合影

 

8月31日,智利天文代表团访问国家天文台总部,就中智双边天文合作进行了座谈。席间薛随建研究员、Ezequiel Triester教授、黄家声研究员分别对国家天文台天文发展、智利天文发展和中智天文合作方面做了介绍。代表团其他成员也分别展示了其所在学校天文研究成果,并与我台科研人员进行了交流。当日下午,智利大学天文系主任Guido Garay教授在国台做了题为“大质量恒星形成”的学术报告,与国台学子们进行充分的交流与探讨。

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国家天文台中智双边座谈会合影                                           智利大学Guido Garay教授学术报告

 

9月1日上午,智利天文代表团访问北京大学科维理天文与天体物理研究所(KIAA),与所长Luis Ho教授、副所长吴学兵教授等进行了学术交流和研讨。下午,代表团拜会了科技部国际合作司,蔡嘉宁参赞及美大处蒋德华处长等与智利代表团进行了座谈,对进一步加强中智科技合作特别是天文合作进行了讨论。蔡嘉宁参赞对两国之间在天文领域的合作成绩以及中科院南美天文研究中心代表国家天文台获得在智“国际科研组织”地位表示赞赏,并期待双边科技联委会机制促成更广泛领域的科技合作。随后代表团拜会中国科学院国际合作局,与曹京华局长,于润升副局长以及美大处孙辉处长、宁博伦副处长等进行了座谈,双方积极肯定中科院南美天文中心已取得的成绩。曹京华局长特别强调,要充分利用南美天文中心这个平台,进一步开拓其他领域的科技合作,得到智方的积极回应。

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智利天文代表团拜访科技部国际合作司合影 智利天文代表团拜访中国科学院国际合作局合影

9月2日上午,“智利周”天文专场活动:“智利–星星之国”研讨会在北京瑰丽大酒店举行,智利代表团和来自中国天文界的近50名科学家及学生参加了本次研讨会。智利前总统弗雷先生首先做了开场演讲,强调智利历届政府,致力推动天文国际合作的政策理念,随后,国家天文台薛随建副台长致辞回顾了中科院南美天文中心的发展历程、现状和成绩;智利驻华大使贺乔治先做了关于两国科技合作前景和展望的演讲。会上,智利天文学会主席Ezequiel Treister教授,智利外交部科技事务主管Juan Carlos Aguirre先生向中国天文界展示了智利天文的优越条件和智利各天文台现状。智利迭戈波特尔斯大学Roberto Assef教授,智利大学天文系主任Guido Garay教授介绍了中智联合科研项目和南美天文中心在智运行进展。会议期间,来自中国各地的天文科学家也与各位智利代表积极交流,探讨科研进展,寻求未来合作机会。

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智利前总统弗雷先生致辞 中智科学家学术交流

本次“智利周”天文专场活动,对进一步加强了中智双方对彼此天文发展状况的了解,促进了中智天⽂科研交流合作有重要意义。南美天文中心将充分发挥其在南美科研合作平台作用,为中智天文合作提供便利,为壮大中国天文事业发展做出应有的贡献。

China Finishes Construction of World’s Largest Radio Telescope [from CAS newsroom]

 

 

FAST one step from completion. (Image by XIN Ling)

After more than five years of construction, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope is finally getting ready to open its eye. On July 3, 2016, with the installation of the last of its 4,450 reflecting panels – equivalent to the size of 30 soccer fields – the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) is counting down to seeing its first light in two to three months’ time.

A bird view of FAST (Image by NAOC)

Compared with the Arecibo telescope, the previous record holder with a diameter of 300 meters, FAST is not only much bigger and more sensitive, but innovative in several ways: It has a much larger sky coverage thanks to its active main reflector, and a light-weight, adjustable feed cabin to move with high precision, etc.

“Once completed, it will lead the world for at least 10 to 20 years,” said YAN Jun, director general of the telescope’s designer, builder and owner – the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) under CAS. YAN was on the scene to celebrate the completion of FAST’s main construction work on July 3.

Installation of the reflector started in August 2015. In 11 months’ time, 4,273 triangular segments and 177 special-shaped segments were set into a unique cable-net structure consisting of thousands of steel cables, nodes and corresponding driving cables, which are tied to actuators on the ground to realize the transformation from a spherical to a parabolic surface.

FAST under construction (Image by NAOC)

The idea of building such a telescope was first proposed in 1994. After a decade of site surveying, Chinese scientists found a nearly perfect spot for FAST in Dawodang, Kedu Town in southeastern China’s Guizhou Province, which is famous for its karst landforms and mountains that naturally shield against radio frequency interference.

The project was approved by the Chinese government in 2007 and will be completed 5-1/2 years after the project was formally started – exactly in line with projections. When completed, the total cost is estimated to be 1.15 billion yuan ($180 million US dollars).

“FAST will enable Chinese astronomers to jump-start many scientific goals, such as surveying the neutral hydrogen in the Milky Way, detecting faint pulsars, and listening to possible signals from other civilizations,” said NAN Rendong, the general engineer and chief scientist of FAST.

“It’s time for China to have its own big telescope,” NAN said.

In the next couple of months, the FAST team will focus on testing and debugging to make the telescope work, said WANG Qiming, head of the reflector system and general technologist for the project. The official completion date is set for late September, and the telescope’s first data are expected around the same time. (By XIN Ling)

Night view of FAST (Image by NAOC)