China’s Huge, Alien-Hunting Radio Telescope Is Finishing Its Testing Phase

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope has hit the ground running.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. (Image credit: NAO/FAST)

China’s giant, alien-hunting radio telescope is finishing its testing-and-commissioning phase, which has occurred over the past three years.

Located in southern China’s Guizhou province, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) began these trial operations in September 2016.

Scientists are using FAST — the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope — for a variety of tasks, including to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

China Central Television (CCTV) reports that, so far, FAST has detected and identified 99 rapidly spinning neutron stars known as pulsars, more than 30 of which are especially fast-rotating millisecond pulsars.

The search for extraterrestrial life and other scientific targets is also underway.

“In the process of observing signals from celestial bodies, we also collect signals that might be emitted by humans or extraterrestrial intelligence,” Zhu Ming, director of the scientific observation and data division at the FAST operations and development center, explained in a recent CCTV video.

“However, this is a huge amount of work, since most signals we see — 99% of them — are various noises, so we need to take our time to identify the signals we want in the noises,” Zhu said.

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