China Finishes Building World’s Largest Alien-Hunting Telescope
China has been working on the principle that whatever United States can do, I can do better. It managed to out stage United States in the supercomputers race by bagging the fastest supercomputer label. Now its doing the same in the field of astronomy by building the world’s largest alien-hunting telescope in Guizhou.
China has finished building the world’s biggest radio telescope, which it will use to explore space and hunt for extraterrestrial life, according to the state media Xinhua.
About 300 “builders, experts, science fiction enthusiasts and reporters” watched the installation of the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (aka FAST) in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou. The project took five years and $180 million to complete, and the reflector covers the area of roughly 30 football fields.
The telescope comprises 4,500 panels, each measuring about 11 meters (36 feet) in length and which together form a mammoth parabolic dish. The design will allow researchers to make minute adjustments to the shape of the dish, empowering them to reflect faraway radio signals to a single focal point for detailed examination.
FAST is almost twice as large as the next biggest radio telescope, which is in Puerto Rico. For a couple years, it will be used for early-stage research by Chinese scientists, and then be used more widely.
Besides detecting radio signals from billions of light years away, FAST is capable of detecting gravitational waves, new galaxies, extra solar planets, pulsars and, ultimately, amino acids on other planets. It’s hoped, the gathered information will help scientists learn more about the evolution of our universe.
“With a larger signal receiving area and more flexibility, FAST will be able to scan two times more sky area than Arecibo [currently the largest operational radio telescope], with three to five times higher sensitivity,” National Astronomical Observatories Chief Scientist Li Di told the China Daily last year.
Scientists will now start debugging and trials of the telescope, Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the telescope said. “The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.”
“FAST’s potential to discover an alien civilisation will be five to ten times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets,” Peng Bo, director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory says.
However, everything comes with a price. In order to make room for FAST, the Chinese government displaced 9,000 people who lived in the area by paying them only about $1,800.
The telescope is expected to become fully functional in September.