China launches world’s largest telescope, FAST
China, known for its incredible advances in technology and space exploration has just launched the world’s largest telescope which gives viewers the chance to see above and beyond what was initially thought to be possible.
Located in Guizhou province in southwestern China, the colossal 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, is simply known as FAST. And get this, it is a single-aperture telescope equivalent to the size of 30 football fields.
A facility of groundbreaking proportions
The gigantic facility officially began operating on Sunday 25 September. Chinese scientists have declared that foreign scientists will also be welcome to use China’s gigantic telescope, which has sparked global interest.
Already a real game-changer in space research, the state of the art facility is 500 meters in diameter. President Xi Jinping on Sunday 25th forwarded a congratulatory letter to the scientists and engineers who contributed to its astonishing creation.
President Xi stated in the letter, “The launch of FAST symbolises a major breakthrough in China’s science research and has great significance for the country’s strategy to push forward innovation,”
So what exactly is the purpose of FAST?
According to Chinese scientists, FAST will primarily search for gravitational waves, detect radio emissions from far away stars and galaxies, and also listen for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life. So FAST is a little bit more than your ordinary telescope, to say the least.
Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observation, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that built the telescope, said, “The ultimate goal of FAST is to discover the laws of the development of the universe. In theory, if there is civilization in outer space, the radio signal it sends will be similar to the signal we can receive when a radiation beam from a pulsar (spinning neutron star) is approaching us.”
Construction of the nearly 1.2 billion yuan ($180 million) FAST telescope project began back in 2011, 17 years after it was first proposed by Chinese astronomers. It will probably be around two to three years before the mega-telescope is used to its full technical capabilities.