500 Metre Telescope in News

The Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in the China’s southwest, which was launched in September and cost 1.2 billion yuan ($180 million) to build, is the world’s largest radio telescope.

Once fully operational, FAST will be able topeerdeeper into space than ever before, examining pulsars and gravitational waves — and searching for signs of life.

Authorities also hope it will bring tourists to the province of Guizhou, one of China’s poorest regions.

But it comes at the cost of forcibly displacing about 9,000 villagers who called the site in Pingtang county their home.

Many wereoutragedat being forced to leave the valley and hundreds of families are now suing the government.

China built FAST as part of efforts to take on international rivals and raise its embarrassingly lowtallyof Nobel Prizes.

The 500-metre-wide dish dwarfs nearest competitor, the US’s Arecibo telescope, which is only 305 metres across.

FAST will be overtaken by the larger Square Kilometre Array telescope in South Africa and Australia, which will be built over the next decade.

FAST needs a five kilometre-wide (three miles) “radio silence” buffer zone around it with electronics banned in order to reduce interference with the sky’s much fainter frequencies.