China begins operating world's largest radio telescope

Science

China begins operating world’s largest radio telescope

The world’s largest radio telescope began operating in southwestern China Sunday, a project which Beijing says will help humanity search for alien life. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, nestled between hills in the mountainous region of Guizhou, began working around noon, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Researchers quoted said FAST would search for gravitational waves, detect radio emissions from stars and galaxies and listen for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Earlier Xinhua cited Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying that the telescope’s high degree of sensitivity “will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy.”

The ultimate goal of FAST is to discover the laws of the development of the universe.

Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Installation of the 4,450-panel structure, nicknamed Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, started in 2011 and was completed in July. China sees its ambitious military-run, multi-billion-dollar space program as symbolizing the country’s progress. It plans a permanent orbiting space station by 2020 and eventually a manned mission to the moon.

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