Credit: NAOC

Credit: NAOC

Construction of China’s “big ear” is formally completed – the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, or FAST in short-speak.

The colossal FAST lies at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China’s Guizhou Province. FAST is made up of more than 4,000 individual panels.

SETI listening

Scientists have described it as a super-sensitive “ear,” capable of detecting very weak signals from space – including star chatter from extraterrestrial intelligence.

Independently designed and built by China, FAST’s concept was initiated in 1994 and the construction took more than five years.

Now FAST is ready to open its “wide eyes” to observe the universe.

Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences/XIN Ling

Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences/XIN Ling

Feed sources from space

According to CCTV-Plus, the observatory building — which acts as the “brain” of the world’s largest radio telescope — will start operation today. The building houses the headquarters that issues instructions to the operation of FAST and monitor its performance.

The feed cabin of FAST was scheduled to have its first move test on Saturday afternoon before conducting its first mission today. The receivers within the cabin will help collect feed sources from space.

Construction of FAST started in March 2011, with an investment of 1.2 billion yuan. The telescope will be used to detect and collect signals and data from the universe.

Credit: NAOC

Credit: NAOC


Tourist views

According to FAST project manager Qian Yiquan, tourist facilities are being built to observe operations.

Due to the need for radio silence in a five-kilometer radius, the observation deck is to be positioned at the top of a mountain nearby.

The deck, parking lots, and a road wending its way to the remote location will be finished by September, Qian said in an interview with China’s Xinhua news service.

Set your eyes on China’s big ear by viewing this video here:

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