In DepthAstronomy

China builds world-class observatories in Tibet

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Science  26 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6438, pp. 316-317
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6438.316

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The Tibetan Plateau is witnessing a scientific building boom. Astronomers and astrophysicists are eager to take advantage of the high and dry observing conditions on the plateau, which has the highest average elevation of any region on Earth. The Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory started to take data this month with an array comprised of several different types of detectors that will study high-energy gamma and cosmic rays. Next year, an installation of specialized sensors at the Ali CMB Polarization Telescope will try to catch signs of primordial gravitational waves. The 400 radio antennas of the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope will start to study solar flares and coronal mass ejections in 2022. And scientists are hunting for a suitable site for the planned 12-meter Large Optical-Infrared Telescope, which will briefly be the world's largest. By building up infrastructure and accumulating knowledge of working in the remote region the new observatories could pave the way for successors.