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.