Alien Search Begins! World's Largest Radio Telescope Starts Operation in China
The search for signals from space and possibly extraterrestrials has begun as China's gigantic radio telescope has finally started its intensive testing phase.
According to Xinhua News Agency, about 300 people worked together on July 3 to install the last of the 4,450 triangular panels of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), a radio telescope that has twice the sensitivity and five to 10 times the surveying speed of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
FAST, as reported by the Associated Press, is located in a natural basin at a karst valley in Pingtang County in the southwestern province of Guizhou, once a home to 65 people. With a budget of $180 million, it took China five years to finish the mammoth innovation that spans a total of 500 meters in diameter.
CCTV News said the mega-science project comprises the largest single dish radio telescope, the size of 30 football grounds, which gives it the capacity to detect even the weakest gravitational waves from space.
"When it starts to function, you can imagine that there is a 300-meter bowl rotating in a 500-meter pan. The telescope is able to be accustomed to the single rotation of the earth, and can detect accurately and sensitively," told Li Di, deputy chief engineer, FAST Project to CCTV News.
"The telescope can access the observed target now, and it is able to collect the data for the experts to make further analysis. But we will still do some debugging and testing operations to perfect its function," Sun Caihong, deputy chief technologist, FAST Project, added.
Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation (NAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, expressed his enthusiasm over the telescope, saying that it will be the global leader for the next 10 to 20 years in assisting the scientists to search for more extraordinary objects and better understand the origin of the universe.
Chinese scientists will use it for "early-stage research;" after which scientists around the world will be allowed to use it.