China’s ambitious plan to build the largest telescope in the world seems to approach its final steps slowly. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) is down to its final testing stage, and will soon be put to use.
The country’s gigantic 500-meter (1,640 feet) wide telescope is located in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, and it accounts for the largest dish in the world. The tool could be researchers’ best approach in finding alien life.
FAST was first tested in 2016, and it features 4,450 panels. Since 2016, the telescope has spotted 99 signals from the deep space, but these signatures proved to be fast radio bursts (FRBs) later on. Scientists are still unclear regarding the signals, but what they do know is that they can generate as much energy in a mere second than the Sun manages to emit in 10,000 years.
The FRBs are incredibly challenging to analyze as they can last for a millisecond, and there is no method to foresee when they are emitted. The most probable explanation is these signatures come from powerful gamma-ray bursts, which are very short yet intense radioactive bursts from stars.
Now, Chinese officials have announced the search for aliens is going to become more alert.
Hunting for Signs of Alien Life
Zhu Ming, director of the scientific observation and data division at the FAST Operations and Development Center, said that in the attempt of spotting signals from cosmic bodies, they also gather signals that might be expelled by humans or alien intelligence.
“However, this is a huge amount of work, since most signals we see — 99 percent of them — are various noises, so we need to take our time to identify the signals we want in the noises,” he said.
The team of researchers will also utilize the telescope to detect gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time. Made up of 4,450 panels, and boasting a width of 500 meters (1,640 feet), the Aperture Spherical Telescope outgrew Puerto Rico’s 300-meter (984 feet) Arecibo Observatory, which is the prior record-holder for the most massive telescope in the world.
Specialists in China will be utilizing the large tool to monitor the Universe in an attempt to search for extraterrestrial life. Because of the immense size of the telescope, it has the potential to identify even the dimmest signals from distant corners of the Universe.