China is in the final stages of building the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The state-owned China Central Television has released drone footage showing their progress, as well as the vertigo-inducing size of it.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being built deep in the misty mountains of Pingtang County, located in the Guizhou Province of southwest China. Construction has been going on since 2011. When completed in 2016, the FAST will become the largest radio telescope on the planet – at 500 meters (1,640 feet) in diameter, its dish will trump Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, which is 300 meters (984 feet) wide.
Wu Xiangping, the director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, said to Xinhua News, “Having a more sensitive telescope, we can receive weaker and more distant radio messages. It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe.”
China will have to foot an equally enormous bill for this project, with estimates suggesting it will cost around 700 million yuan ($110,328,309).