China unveils Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope in search for extraterrestrial life

China on 25 September 2016 officially launched the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in a mountainous region of Guizhou province.

The telescope was launched to hunt for extraterrestrial life and explore space.

Key highlights of Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

 The FAST is a radio telescope located in the Dawodang depression, a natural basin in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, southwest China.

 It consists of a fixed 500 m dish constructed in a natural depression in the landscape.

 It is the world’s largest filled aperture (single dish) radio telescope.

 It is the second largest radio telescope after the Russian RATAN-600.

 The final cost of the project is 180 million US dollars.

 Construction on the FAST project began in 2011 and was completed in July 2016.

 The chief scientist of the project is Nan Rendong.

 It has a fixed primary reflector located in a natural hollow in the landscape, focusing radio waves on a receiver suspended 140 m above it.

 The reflector is made of perforated aluminium panels supported by a mesh of steel cables hanging from the rim.

 Its surface is made of 4450 triangular panels, 11 m on a side, in the form of a geodesic dome.

 It is capable of pointing anywhere within ±40° from the zenith.

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