On September 25, the world’s largest radio telescope was put in use in Guizhou Province, southwest China.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope’s (FAST) cost about 180 million US dollars and took 5 years to build. In early July this year, the installation of the telescope’s main structure was finished.
Hundreds of astronomers and civil scientists came to Pingtang County see the official launch of FAST, and many believed that the telescope would bring more people into scientific research and boost astronomy in China.
The main purpose of FAST is to explore space and hunt for extraterrestrial life. In the past, radio telescopes have been used to receive radio waves from astronomical radio sources in the sky.
They are main observing instrument to study the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by astronomical objects.
FAST already had a good start. It received high-quality electromagnetic waves from a pulsar 1,351 light-years away. After being officially launched, it will observe more pulsars, explore interstellar molecules and interstellar communication signals.
Researchers will adjust FAST in the first 2 -3 years. After that, the telescope can be used in early stages of research. Then it will be open to other scientists in the world.
The world’s largest radio telescope also brings some changes in the local economy. More than 8,000 people moved their home to make way for the project. Over 600 apartments have been built in two new places close to the FAST.
The local government hopes to develop tourism via the FAST project in the near future. Currently, the telescope is expected to attract 2000 visitors daily, and part of the “scenic zone” around FAST will be open to the public.