The world’s largest antenna in China uses Earth as a radio station


China is slowly but surely making its way to the top. Frequently making headlines with its space-related developments, the country now claims to operate the world’s largest antenna for its underwater operations.

What makes the antenna unique is that it was designed to maintain underwater communications over 1,900 miles (3,000 km), enough to reach Guam, the largest U.S. military base in western the Pacific Ocean, according to the project’s lead engineer Zha Ming and his colleagues at the Wuhan Maritime Communications Research Institute, reports South China Morning Post.

Although the current location of the gigantic antenna remains unknown, the team said it was somewhere 1,000 km south of Beijing, 2,000 km southeast of Dunhuang in northwestern China and 1,000 km east of Mianyang in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

A paper published in the Chinese Journal of Ship Research details that receiving devices planted 700 feet (200 m) below the surface of the seabed can pick up signals from the giant antenna 800 miles (1,300 km) away.

The antenna is constructed using an extensive network of cables and towers similar to that of traditional power lines. The system works thanks to two underground transmitters which charge themselves with electric current and thus transform the Earth into a gigantic radio station, reports SCMP.

According to the research team, the Chinese antenna is the world’s first large-scale very low frequency (ELF) facility open to non-military users that can generate electromagnetic waves from 0.1 to 300 Hz. These waves can easily travel long distances underwater and below the surface.

But the adjustment was not easy. If the electric currents become too strong, they could create a magnetic field which could affect the conductivity of the cables. This is why the generated radio waves must be refined. The team said they had solutions to these issues and that the installation exceeded the necessary standards set previously.

While these signals will primarily be used to send and receive important messages to and from great distances, the scientists also said they could be used to monitor fault lines beneath the surface and help assess possible seismic hazards for Chinese cities.


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