China begins operating world's largest radio telescope

The world's largest radio telescope - based in a lush mountainous region of southwest China's Guizhou province - began exploring space in search of extraterrestrial life on Sunday.

Hundreds of astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts witnessed the launch of the 500-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), 17 years after the model was first proposed by Chinese scientists.

The installation of the telescope's main panel, which is as large as 30 football pitches, was completed in early July, with the entire project costing nearly 1.2 billion yuan (180 million dollars), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Construction on the telescope began in March 2011.  

In a recent trial observation, FAST received a set of high-quality electromagnetic waves sent from a pulsar about 1,351 light years away, Xinhua reported citing Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observation (NAO).

Earlier this year, authorities evacuated more than 8,000 rural residents to make way for the project, which requires radio silence within a 5-kilometre radius to ensure a sound electromagnetic wave environment.

Resettlement is ongoing, according to Xinhua, which earlier reported that each relocated resident will receive compensation of 12,000 yuan.

Last update: Sun, 25/09/2016 - 13:54

More from Science & Tech

Facebook to build data centre in Denmark

The Danish city of Odense and social media giant Facebook announced on Thursday the city was to host a new European...

Scientists say 2016 was warmest on record, for third consecutive time

Last year was the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1880, US government scientists said Wednesday, making 2016...

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket makes first launch since September explosion

An unmanned SpaceX rocket blasted off from a California launch pad on Saturday and delivered 10 satellites into low...

Apple partner Foxconn suffers sales drop amid slow iPhone 7 shipments

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group reported its first-ever annual sales decline late Tuesday, in...

10 years of the iPhone: The smartphone that changed everything

As the late Apple head Steve Jobs appeared on Macworld conference stage on January 9, 2007, attendees were already...