China has fitted the final piece on a satellite that will be used to explore space and look for extraterrestrial life. This telescope is said to be the world’s largest radio telescope, measuring 500 meters in width, the impressive size of 30 football fields.
The Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is a $180m project and it is used by China to advance their space program, a key priority for Beijing, reports BBC News.
The next step is for scientists to debug and test the telescope, according to deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zheng Xiaonian.
The telescope will be able to survey neutral hydrogen in distant galaxies and detect faint pulsars, which are highly magnetized balls of neutrons. It will also improve the chances of detecting low frequency gravitational waves and help search for extraterrestrial life.
It will surpass the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which is around 300m in diameter, and is currently the world’s largest telescope.
Although China already stated that its space program is being developed with peaceful purposes, the U.S. Defence Department is said to be active in what concerns prevention of the use of space-based assets by adversaries in situations of crisis. Beijing is expected to launch a “core module” for its first space station sometime in 2018.