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World’s largest radio telescope begins searching for signals from stars and galaxies

The world’s largest radio telescope began searching for signals from stars and galaxies and, perhaps, extraterrestrial life on Sunday in a project demonstrating China’s rising ambitions in space and its pursuit of international scientific prestige.

Beijing has poured billions into such ambitious scientific projects as well as its military-backed space program, including its second space station earlier this month.

Measuring 500 meters in diameter, the radio telescope is nestled within a stunning landscape of lush green karst formations in southern Guizhou province. It took five years and $180 million to complete and surpasses that of the 300-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a dish used in research on stars that led to a Nobel Prize.

The official Xinhua News Agency said hundreds of astronomers and enthusiasts watched the launch of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST.

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