China building observatory to decode cosmic secrets

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-06 21:17:34|Editor: ying
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CHENGDU, June 6 (Xinhua) -- An observatory for detecting cosmic rays is being built in southwest China's Sichuan Province, and will partially go into use next year, scientists said Tuesday.

The project, known as Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO), is located in mountains of the eastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an average altitude of 4,110 meters.

Spanning 1.36 square kilometers, the size of 10 standard soccer fields, the LHAASO will detect cosmic rays and analyze the sources of the rays, said Cao Zhen, chief scientist of the project from the China Academy of Sciences.

Thousands of detectors will be installed in the area, said Cao.

Total spending is estimated at 1.2 billion yuan (176 million U.S. dollars), with three quarters coming from the National Development and Reform Commission and the other quarter from Sichuan Province.

Cosmic rays are highly penetrative rays from outer space. Their collisions with atmospheric particles create particles of many kinds, including neutrons, mesons and hyperons.

Detection of ray showers will help track the sources of the rays and help decode the origins of the universe, solar activity and the space environment of Earth, said Cao.

Construction started in July 2016 and will be completed by 2021. The first stage, around a quarter of the entire area, is expected to be operational by the end of next year.