Written by Staff Writer
26 Sep, 2016 | 12:08 pm
China switched on the world’s largest radio telescope on Sunday, officially launching its mission to hunt for extraterrestrial life and explore space.
With a whopping 1,640 feet (500 meter) wide dish the size of 30 football fields, the telescope will able to detect radio signals — and potentially signs of life — from distant planets.
Xinhua reports the telescope cost $180 million, and displaced 8,000 people from their homes to create the necessary 3-mile radius of radio silence around the facility. It will be used for “observation of pulsars as well as exploration of interstellar molecules and interstellar communication signals.”
Xinhua described FAST as a “super-sensitive ‘ear’ capable of spotting very weak messages – if there are any – from space.” The media outlet said that in a recent trial, FAST had detected high-quality electromagenitc waves sent from a pulsar about 1,351 light-years from Earth.
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