The world’s largest radio telescope is about to start operating after several years of testing.
Known as the Five Hundred Meter Spherical Opening Telescope (FAST), the new observatory, located in southern China, has a diameter of 500 meters and cost $ 180 billion to build.
Its testing and commissioning phase began in 2016 and is now almost complete.
It’s scientific goals include studying pulsars, detecting interstellar molecules, conducting a large-scale neutral hydrogen survey, and finding evidence of extraterrestrial communications.
Given that FAST is already three times more sensitive than the observatory Arecibo in Puerto Rico, it should be very interesting, indeed, to see what, if anything, it can capture.
Zhu Ming, director of the observation and scientific division of FAST’s operations and development center, said:
In the process of observing signals from celestial bodies, we also collect signals that may be emitted by humans or extraterrestrial intelligence.
However, it is a huge amount of work, as most of the signals we see – 99% of them – are various noises. Therefore, we need to take time to identify the signals we want within the noise.