The Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will search deep space in the hope of unlocking some of the universe’s deepest secrets.
Is Earth finally about to make contact with extra terrestrial life?
That is one of the hopes for the world’s largest radio telescope, which will be switched on later this month.
The finishing touches have now been put to the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), in south west China’s Guizhou Province, with the enormous 1,650-foot-wide dish set become operational from September 25.
The final stage was the installation of a 30-ton ‘feed cabin’, which collects signals from the universe received by the telescope.
Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC), told Reuters: “It (the feed cabin) is the receiver of the FAST and the receiver is the most important part.
“It receives all the signals collected by FAST. It’s as important as the apple of the eye.”
FAST is now going through a debugging and has already started to receive signals from pulsars – celestial objects that emit radiowaves at up to one thousand pulses a second.
“We haven’t done tests with all the systems ready,” said Yue Youling, assistant research fellow at the science department of FAST
“Now most of the systems are ready for joint tests. We can do some tests after the feed cabin is hoisted up and can receive some scientific data.”
The first few years of FAST’s life will see Chinese scientists conduct early stage research to find out more about the beginning of the universe.
After that the £134m telescope will become open to researchers across the world to search for distant planets and listen out for signals potentially left by alien civilisations.