The world’s largest radio telescope having five hundred metre aperture has started functioning from China. This giant device is developed to search strange objects in the universe, including UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) and alien species. Besides it would better the understanding of the origin of the universe and any existence of extraterrestrial life away from our Earth in light years.
Chinese Academy of Sciences announced last week that its new Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is now ready to scan the skies. With a dish that is 500 metre across, the mega device is now the largest single dish radio telescope in the world. The main functions of FAST include probing the universe at radio wavelengths, hunting for faint pulsars, mapping neutral hydrogen in distant galaxies, and searching for signs of extraterrestrial communications and living species also.
With an area equal to 30 soccer fields, FAST requires radio silence within 5 km radius. In order to create a zone free of radio interference, China also relocated more than 9,000 people from villages in the surrounding area while building the telescope. In the making of FAST, 1.2 billion yuan, equals to 180 million dollar has been invested in the last 17 years by China. The radio satellite is located in southwestern China in the sparsely populated Guizhou province.
The project was first proposed in 1994 and was given consent by the Chinese government in 2007 and the project construction began in 2011. “Once completed, FAST will lead the world for at least 10 to 20 years,” says Yan Jun, the director general and telescope designer from National Astronomical Observatories of China in a press release.
Actually, the radio telescope has entered an extensive commissioning phase on 25 September 2016. As a trial, FAST had made its first observation of a pulsar 1,351 light-years away in last month. FAST will also use the Next Generation Archive System (NGAS) developed by the International Center for Radio Astronomy (ICRAR) in Australia and the European Southern Observatory to store and maintain the large amount of data it’s expected to collect. NGAS will be going to handle about 3 petabytes of data from FAST every year, enough to fill 120,000 single layers.
However, noted British physicist, Stephen Hawking has warned against announcing human presence to any alien civilisation, especially to those more technologically advanced than us. “One day we might receive a signal from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering back. They will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable as we see bacteria,” he warned.
Only time will tell how much extraterrestrial discoveries including traces of aliens or any other life in the universe would be revealed with the help of FAST, but one thing is certain that this giant device proves the interest of humans to know more and more of the universe and desires to establish contact with living species existing in this cosmos. It is set to usher in a new generation of radio astronomy with more exciting revelations to be known by us.