It covers an area the size of 30 soccer fields.
China continues to make huge strides in the space exploration industry, and the country just installed the final piece of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), officially making it the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world. FAST, which is located on the side of a mountain in the south-western province of Guizhou, is the size of 30 soccer fields.
According to TIME, the $185 million telescope was constructed in a natural depression in the Guizhou province to protect it from electromagnetic disruption, and the device is made of nearly 4,500 panels.
So why exactly did China construct this monster of a telescope? To hunt for aliens, of course.
CCTV reports that FAST will be used to explore some of the universe’s most mysterious phenomena, like black holes, pulsars, and “intelligent life from outer space.”
“Understanding the fundamental physics of pulsars will help us understand the Big Bang,” Yue Youling, associate researcher of National Astronomical Observatories, told CCTV. “Now we only know what happened after the Big Bang, everything before that relies on our calculation. Therefore, there are a lot of uncertainties.”
The telescope will enable Chinese astronomers to detect radio waves coming in from space in more detail than ever before, and “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 civilisations," said Nan Rendong, general engineer and chief scientist on the FAST project, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
CAS reports that FAST will now undergo months of testing and debugging, and the researchers estimate that it will be officially ready to begin operations in September.
From China’s record-setting nuclear fusion experiment to their recently launched dark matter satellite, it’s undeniable that the country is positioning itself as one of the big players in the field of space technology.
Unfortunately, recent research by astronomers at Cornell University suggests that we could be waiting 1,500 years before aliens contact us, but perhaps FAST will serve to expedite the process.
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