The world’s largest radio telescope, which could potentially broaden the search for signs of extraterrestrial life and allow astronomers to study various galaxies, is in the making -- courtesy China. The country’s space program, backed by the Chinese military, is developing the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), which will be the size of 30 football fields, CNN reported Monday.
Once complete, the telescope could possible detect radio signals from “planets orbiting a million stars and solar systems,” according to CNN. The report added that the telescope could be a “game-changer” in understanding the universe and the search for life on other planets.
According to a July report from Xinhua News, FAST will be ready by 2016. Nan Rendong, chief scientist of the FAST project, told Xinhua that the telescope will have highly accurate detection.
"A radio telescope is like a sensitive ear, listening to tell meaningful radio messages from white noise in the universe. It is like identifying the sound of cicadas in a thunderstorm," Nan reportedly said at the time.
Apart from Nan, Director General of the Chinese Astronomical Society Wu Xiangping was also optimistic about the telescope’s potential. "It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe," Wu told Xinhua.
Development of FAST started in 2011 and it is currently under construction in Pingtang in southwest China's Guizhou province. Once finished, the telescope will be about a mile in perimeter and will take about 40 minutes to walk around it, according to Xinhua.