The five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), which is being built over a natural basin in the southwestern province of Guizhou, is expected to "greatly enhance" the country's capacity to observe outer space, according to Xinhua.
The newspaper quoted Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society as saying that "having a more sensitive telescope, we can receive weaker and more distant radio messages."
He added that "it will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe."
China has begun to assemble FAST, the world's largest radio telescope. https://t.co/7IwJfH43UL #space pic.twitter.com/fUNgXjwduM— Inside Space (@GoInsideSpace) 24 июля 2015
FAST will consist of 4,450 triangular-shaped panels, which are currently being attached to the telescope's reflector by technicians.
First of 4,600 panels for China's FAST telescope shipped, says state media. Will be world's largest radio telescope pic.twitter.com/Yt9FTZIE1d— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) 21 июля 2015
As to the FAST disc, it will comprise of about 460,000 reflective mirrors with a total surface area exceeding 250,000 square meters; the dish will have a perimeter of about 1.6 kilometers, according to Xinhua.
The telescope is somewhat isolated with no towns within a five kilometer radius. Scientists said this will provide the telescope with the ideal environment to detect signals from outer space.
The 700 million yuan (112 million dollars) project is scheduled to be completed next year.