China is Relocating 9000 People to Build the World’s Largest Radio Telescope


This past summer, China began construction on the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. When completed, the 500-meter (1640-foot) Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (or FAST) will stretch more than 600 feet wider than the previous record-holder, the Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico. According to Al Jazeera, officials in the country’s Guizhou province have announced that 9110 residents will be relocated to make way for the massive structure.

In order to ensure the telescope functions as accurately as possible, anyone living within about a 3-mile radius of the device is being moved to create a "sound electromagnetic wave environment for the machine," Al Jazeera cites the Xinhua News Agency (China's government-sponsored press agency) as reporting. The affected citizens will reportedly be given about $1800 each as compensation and will be moved from the area by September.

A telescope this powerful could be used by astronomers to survey the cosmos for undiscovered galaxies, exoplanets, and faint pulsars. According to Wu Xiangping, the director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as quoted by Xinhua, FAST will also be used to search for intelligent alien life beyond our own galaxy. You can check out the video above for drone footage of the partially constructed telescope taken this past fall.

Header image courtesy of CCTV via YouTube.

[h/t Al Jazeera]