On Sunday, Chinese workers raised the final panel into position on the mammoth device that will be used to explore space. It was the last piece of the 4,450 triangular panels being fitted into the center of the big dish.
At least 300 builders, scientists, experts, science fiction enthusiasts and reporters witnessed the installation of the last panel lasting for about 40 minutes in a historic event in preparation for the telescope’s launch in the coming months.
The size of 30 football fields, the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope or FAST is situated at a karst valley in Pingtang County in China’s southwestern province of Guizhou.
Construction of the telescope started five years ago and authorities expect the $180 million device to start operations in September.
Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said tests and debugging are set to start, adding the state-of-the-art telescope will become a worldwide leader for the next one to two decades.
— gbtimes (@gbtimescom) June 28, 2016
“The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life,” the official Xinhua news agency paraphrased Zheng as saying.
Zheng said the giant device will dwarf the 300-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and will be 10 times more sensitive than Germany’s steerable 100-meter telescope.
Almost 10,000 residents near the site will be relocated as part of the telescope’s protection.
Li Yuecheng, secretary-general of the Guizhou Provincial Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said a proposal has been approved asking the government to implement the relocation of residents within five kilometers of the telescope to pave the way for the sound electromagnetic wave environment.
Li said by the end of September, the Guizhou provincial authorities are expected to resettle 9,110 residents in the counties of Pingtang and Luodian.
At least 12,000 yuan or $1,838 will be given to each affected resident as subsidy from the provincial reservoir and eco-migration bureau, aside from the 10,000 yuan that each relocated ethnic minority household will receive from the provincial ethnic and religious committee.
China has been aggressively pursuing its space programs, spending billions annually as it aims to establish itself as a global leader in space explorations.