Photo of the world's largest radio telescope, called Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), taken January 11, 2020 - CHINA NEW / SIPA

The world's largest radio telescope began its official mission to China on Saturday after nearly three years of successful testing, the national news agency Xinhua announced on Saturday. Called Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (Fast), the record-breaking tool measures, as its name suggests, 500 meters in diameter.

# China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (#FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, officially began operations on Saturday. (People's Daily)

- Economic Daily, China (@EDNewsChina) January 11, 2020

The surface of this structure installed in the province of Guizhou has been in operation since the end of 2016 and is equivalent to 30 football fields. The goal of the program is to provide astronomers around the world with the means to learn more about the creation and evolution of the universe. Scientists hope to discover new stars and unknown cosmic phenomena. They also hope to better understand the laws that govern the universe. And, why not, to discover signs of extraterrestrial life, explains Li Kejia, specialist at the Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing.

Enjoy time-lapse video of China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), world's largest single-dish radio telescope

- China Xinhua Sci-Tech (@XHscitech) September 2, 2019

50 times greater precision

FAST was designed to receive up to 38 gigabits of data per second. It has a lens twice as powerful as the second largest telescope in the world. Nicknamed "the Chinese eye in the sky", the equipment has made it possible to quadruple the extent of the areas accessible to remote exploration.

During the trial period preceding its start-up at full power, FAST has already achieved notable results. The device allowed the discovery of 102 new pulsars - neutron stars -, as many as those found by European and American researchers at the same time. The dating carried out by the Chinese tool, which cost more than 150 million euros, was found to be 50 times more precise than before. This captured for the very first time the gravitational waves of Nahertz - waves at very low frequency - of scientific history.


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