China goes alien hunting with the world's largest radio telescope

The construction of the radio telescope, began in 1994, has finally finished.

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Image: FAST

China has its eye on tracking alien activity now the construction of the "world's largest telescope" has finally finished.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST's tale began in 1994, when planning the device for the purpose of searching for extraterrestrial life began. After jumping over regulatory and permission hurdles, the massive telescope took five years to complete and cost a total of $180 million.

FAST compromises of a massive reflecting dish containing 4,450 panels which span roughly the size of 30 football fields, according to local media Xinhua News.

The telescope, located in Pingtang County in the southwestern province of Guizhou, will be used to search for "strange" objects which will help us understand more about our universe. FAST will also be used to watch neutral hydrogen activity in distant galaxies, gravitational waves and pulsars.

The scientists behind the project say that amino acids could also be discovered eventually, which could point towards alien life on other planets and in other galaxies.

According to Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' National Astronomical Observation (NAO), scientists will now begin debugging and trial observations of space using the radio telescope.

Zheng believes the telescope will become "the global leader" in this field of exploration within the next few decades.

In the first two to three years, scientists at NAO, which led the construction of FAST, will adjust the system and use it for early-stage research. However, Peng Bo, director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory says that after this adjustment period the telescope will become available to scientists worldwide.

"FAST's potential to discover an alien civilization will be five to ten times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets," said Peng.

However, the finished project does mean upheaval for over 9,000 nearby Chinese residents. In order to ensure radio silence and keep the telescope's capabilities at optimal levels, these citizens -- who live within 9,000km of FAST -- will be moved away to new settlements in Pingtang County and Luodian County.