The Chinese radio telescope was completed two months before schedule and will help towards discovering the farthest and darkest reaches of the universe.
China has finally fitted the last piece to the world’s largest telescope and is due to begin its operation as soon as September.
The Aperture Spherical Telescope or FAST is massive, standing at 500m wide and approximately the size of 30 football fields according to a BBC report. The telescope is situated in Pingtang County, southwest China’s Guizhou and has been in the process of construction for the last five years, however, July 3 saw its completion as the largest telescope in the world and is designed to look for white noise in the universe and even signs of alien life.
“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, chief scientist with the FAST Project, told China.org.
Completed two months ahead of schedule, FAST was built using primarily Chinese-sourced materials, however out of the seven receivers, two were developed by a team of Chinese, American and Australian engineers. The total cost of the project was about 1.2 billion chinese yuan which amounts to around $180 million.
For the first couple of years, FAST will be used for early-stage research after which it will be available to international astronomers and will be intended to be the most powerful radio telescope in the world for some time to come. It has now overtaken the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico which stands at only 300 meters wide and will be 10 times more sensitive than the 100 meter telescope located in Bonn, Germany.
According to the BBC, Reuters has reported that the “U.S. Defense Department has said it was pursuing activities aimed to ‘prevent adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis'” despite China stating that it only has peaceful motives in its developing space programs.