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Finance & Innovation

With world’s largest telescope, China hopes to find aliens

NewsBeat Social

China has just completed the installation of the world’s largest radio telescope of its kind.

The telescope can measure radio waves, allowing astronomers to study phenomena that emit these waves, like pulsars (blinking neutron stars), black holes, and quasars.

But what’s more interesting is that the telescope can also measure unnatural sources of radio waves, like, for example, technology created by aliens.

Here’s a breakdown of the telescope, by the numbers

$180 million: The sky-high amount (in USD) that the Chinese government is spending on this 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST)

9,000: The estimated number of people that were relocated from the Guizhou Province, where the telescope is located, to create a radio-quiet zone.

4,450: The number of triangular reflector panels it consists of, delicately installed at a measured pace of 20 panels per day.

1,000: The number of light years upto which the project is designed to listen for radio waves in search for extraterrestrial life, according to TechCrunch.

30: The number of football fields that the telescope, with its circumference of almost a mile, can cover.

5: The number of bottles of wine per person on Earth that FAST, essentially a huge, radio dish, is large enough to hold, as per what a scientist told the Guardian.

“As the world’s largest single aperture telescope located at an extremely radio-quiet site, its scientific impact on astronomy will be extraordinary, and it will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences,” Nan Rendong, the lead scientist of the project that began in 2011, told the Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

The telescope is expected to be the world leader in extraterrestrial discoveries for at least the next couple of decades. Previously, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a 300-meter device, was the largest telescope in the world.

"FAST's potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets," said the director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory, Peng Bo, according to Popular Science.

The FAST team estimates that it will be ready for operational testing in September.

Here’s hoping that the sheer human effort, number of people displaced, and China’s huge investment pays off, so we can welcome universal citizens in the future!