There is a new player in the search for Alien life. China completed the world’s largest telescope not long ago and it has been a source of great excitement. The telescope is a massive 500 meters in diameter and its total area is the size of 30 American Football fields. It will possess more power than ever before to detect life from distant planets.
According to Douglas Vakoch, the president of METI International, the Chinese telescope will be able to see further in space than all other devices invented. It will also get the job done faster. METI is a nonprofit that is devoted to looking for alien intelligence. The Chinese telescope is located in southwest China in the mountains. It will officially begin its operations on September 25th. Amongst astronomers, the time when a telescope becomes active for the firs time is called “first light. This first picture of the universe taken by the telescope is thought to be special.
The telescope is named FAST for Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope. Its field of vision is nearly twice as large as ARECIBO which was built in Puerto Rico 53 years ago. Its true that Russia has a system of telescopes named RATAN that are 600 meters in diameter but they are not a single device. It took a very long time to find the right place to build FAST. The total cost of the project was $185 million and construction began in 2011. It is composed of more than 4000 triangular panels all networked together. The structure can never be moved but its panels can be adjusted.
The surface can be manipulated to point at certain spots in the sky. There is a network of ropes made from steel that use hydraulic push and pull to change the configuration of the telescope. The telescope is located in the province of Guizhou in China and it is just one of more than 400 locations that scientists looked at when considering where to build it. It took 10 years of surveying to find just the right spot. The valley where it is built has the perfect egg shape to protect the telescope from radio interference and the walls of the surrounding mountain help. You can read more about the FAST telescope here at Business Insider.