Thanks to a new telescope, China may be the first country to make contact with extraterrestrial beings. But, it’ll have to relocate about 10,000 of its own people first.
China is constructing the world’s largest radio telescope to search for intelligent life in the universe. The Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) is being built in Guizhou province. Its dish would measure 500 meters in diameter. The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which currently is the world’s largest radio telescope, is 300 meters in diameter.
According to China’s state-run news agency Xinhua, local officials vowed to relocate 9,110 people within 5 kilometers of the device by September.
The move would prevent interference with the telescope’s electromagnetic waves. Common technology like cell phones and WiFi services emit electromagnetic waves. Their transmissions would make it difficult for the telescope to pick up faint radio waves outside Earth.
These extraterrestrial radio waves could come from natural entities like quasars or black holes. Theoretically, they also could come from technology developed by aliens, just as radio waves are emitted by man-made technology.
A radio telescope’s effectiveness in scanning radio waves partly depends on the size of its dish. The bigger the better.
Li Di, chief scientist with China’s National Astronomical Observatories, puts the size of china’s telescope into perspective.
“If you fill it with wine, every one of the world’s seven billion people could get a share of about five bottles,” he tells the China Daily newspaper.
“With a larger signal receiving area and more flexibility, FAST will be able to scan two times more sky area than Arecibo, with three to five times higher sensitivity,” Li continued.
Local officials say each person who is forced to relocate would get 12,000 Yuan or $18,000 in subsidies. FAST is designed to cost about 1.2 billion Yuan.
FAST is scheduled to be operational in September.