China's FAST Radio Telescope That Is Searching Alien Life Will Open For Scientists Globally This Year
FAST radio telescope in China. (Image: Chinatopix via AP)
International scientists can submit their proposals to the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing starting from April 1. FAST telescope's chief engineer Jiang Peng says that scientist may be able to access facilities in August.
- Last Updated: January 05, 2021, 14:03 IST
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The world's largest radio telescope in China will open to non-Chinese scientist later this year. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or 'FAST' that was officially unveiled in January 2020, aims to assist in a wide range of projects, including the hunt for extraterrestrial life. According to the Hong Kong-based English daily South China Morning Post, international scientists can submit their proposals to the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing starting from April 1. As the research centre is expecting a huge number of applications, an expert panel will help screen the proposals for the most promising candidates, the report added.
FAST telescope's chief engineer Jiang Peng told the daily that international scientists might get access to facilities by August this year. "This year we will allocate about 10 percent of the total observation time slots to requests from overseas," Jiang added. At the moment, China is now the only country in the world that operates a giant telescope after the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico collapsed at the end of last year due to hurricanes and the failure to maintain it properly. The telescope's large size also makes it ideal to record radio waves missed by other devices. The Chinese agency hopes that this would not only help them with space research but also enable to hunt for aliens, occasionally.
China has already pointed the Fast telescope at some exoplanets near our solar system that may be able to support life, according to Professor Li Di, a senior scientist working at the site. The Chinese team also plans to use Fast to search for more distant planets outside our solar system, the report claims. The FAST telescope operates at "considerable cost" and it took five years and $180 million for its development. It remains unclear whether China will charge the foreign scientists for the service and how much.
The report speculates that the scientific collaboration between China and international communities in space research would open new avenues for international cooperation. The country has been at odds with the US, the European Union, and even India over several issues such as data privacy and surveillance.