Feb 17th, 2016, 02:52 PM

China is Alien-Hunting with the World's Largest Telescope

By Jenna Nellis
Image Credit: Pixabay/joordygoovearts0
Unfortunately, this project will cost 9,000 residents their homes.

Yes, the United States put the first man on the moon. But if any country gets to claim the discovery of aliens, China is ahead of the pack with this massive telescope. The 500-meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will cost an estimated 1.2 billion renminbi (184 million dollars) to build. Once FAST is fully functional, 4,450 triangular-shaped panels will move to reflect radio signals from the far reaches of the galaxy, gathered by a 30-tonne retina. Without a doubt, this project is the largest leap made towards the discovery of alien life to date.  

With almost every modern advancement, however, something else is often lost or replaced or displaced. In this case, that "something else" includes all residents within a 5 km radius of the project. Officials said in a report by Xinhua this month that 2,029 families (a total of 9,110 people) will be forced from their homes and given the equivalent of $1,800 each for housing compensation. According to this report, depopulating the area will create "a sound electromagnetic wave environment" for the telescope in the isolated region of Qiannan, deep within Guizhou's Karst mountains.

China Is Building The World's Largest Radio Telescope (FAST)

The practical use of this expensive and time-consuming telescope may be somewhat less glamorous than all the hype surrounding it. The majority of data collected will deal with a wide range of physical phenomena including pulsars, galaxies, black holes, and gas clouds. In the past, this data was collected from the 53-year-old Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico -- which FAST will trump in size.

What kind information will actually come from this massive listening device is still to be determined, but so the search continues to see that's really out there in the "final frontier."