World's largest radio telescope “The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope”( FAST) which is nicknamed “Tianyan” is due to begin its operations in September. A massive gray reflector now lies between the hills of Pingtang County as China on July 3, Sunday, hoisted its finishing touches on the world's largest radio telescope after five years of construction. On July 3rd, the last of the 4,450 triangular panels was fitted into the center of the telescope's big dish.
The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is 500m wide or the size of 30 football fields. Like a highly sensitive ear, the radio telescope FAST is designed to eavesdrop on white noise in the universe and detect any potential presence of alien life. Xinhua news agency of China reported that the cost of this project is $180m (£135m). It was first conceived in 1994 and its construction began in March 2011. It will be used to explore space and help look for extraterrestrial life. Most of the materials used in the telescope were made domestically.
Five out of seven receivers were from china while the remaining two were co-produced by Chinese, American and Australian Developers. The construction of the telescope was finished two months ahead of schedule and this was a monumental step towards its launch in September. This feat on sunday was witnessed by a crowd of 300 people, including developers, builders, and reporters. Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences told Xinhua news agency that debugging and trials of the telescope are now due to start by scientists. FAST can potentially reach more strange objects to better understand the universe's origins and boost the hunt for alien life, Zheng says. He believes the radio telescope will become the global leader in the next 10 to 20 years.
After FAST's launch, Chinese scientists will use the radio telescope for early-stage research for a year or two. Afterwards, FAST will then be open to astronomers all over the world, says Peng Bo, the director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory. Peng says experts can perform observations in other cities such as Beijing, located about 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) away from the telescope. FAST will also be 10 times more sensitive than the 100-meter (109 yards) steerable telescope in Germany. As soon as it is launched, FAST will dwarf the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which has a diameter of 300 meters (328 yards).