Credit: New China TV/XinhuaVideo/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Making the rounds on Twitter and various news feeds is that China may have picked up signals from alien civilizations.

China’s “Sky Eye” — better known as the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) radio telescope — is located in southwestern Guizhou province.

In one report, posted by the state-backed Science and Technology Daily (story now removed from the site) cites Zhang Tonjie, chief scientist of an extraterrestrial civilization search team co-founded by Beijing Normal University, the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Berkeley.

Credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Zhang is reported to have said that the team detected two sets of signals in 2020 while sifting through data gathered in 2019. Another signal was picked up this year amidst observation data of exoplanet targets.

However, Zhang reportedly also underscored the prospect that the signals are products of radio interference. As follow-up, repeat observations are reportedly on tap.

Radio pollution

Meanwhile, Inside Outer Space reached out to Dan Werthimer, the Marilyn and Watson Alberts SETI Chair in the Astronomy Department and Space Sciences Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. He works with the Beijing Normal University SETI researchers.

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is an international, collaborative affair. SETI scientist Dan Werthimer of the University of California, Berkeley, co-authored a recent paper on China’s SETI program with the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST). He is shown here with other FAST SETI collaborators. Credit: Dan Werthimer

These signals are from radio interference; they are due to radio pollution from earthlings, not from ET. The technical term we use is “RFI” – radio frequency interference. RFI can come from cell phones, TV transmitters, radar, satellites, as well as electronics and computers near the observatory that produce weak radio transmissions,” Werthimer said.

“All of the signals detected by SETI researchers so far are made by our own civilization, not another civilization,” Werthimer added. “It’s getting hard to do SETI observations from the surface of our planet. Radio pollution is getting worse, as more and more transmitters and satellites are built. Some radio bands have become impossible to use for SETI.”

Credit: Breakthrough Listen/Danielle Futselaar


Werthimer said that earthlings might eventually have to go to the backside of the Moon to do SETI. “A radio telescope on the backside of the Moon would be shielded from all of our planet’s radio pollution.”

For more information on China’s SETI plans, go to:

China Radio Telescope Embarks on ET Search

Also, go to:

Ready, SETI, go: Is there a race to contact E.T.?

One Response to “China “Abuzz” About SETI Detection Claim”

  • Jersey Prophet says:

    Naaaah, China’s dish didn’t detect an alien civilization in outer space. They just happened to stray onto a channel showing “The View.”

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