In the grand tradition of the Three Gorges Dam, China has another world record on it sights. This time around it has begun construction of an enormous radio telescope similar to the Arecibo SETI dish in Puerto Rico. What sets it apart is the sheer scale of this engineering monstrosity. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) has a 1,000 foot diameter and 11,000 tons of ‘overhanging mirrors’ to perform its job, which is to communicate with alien life forms.
The enormous radio telescope will be constructed in Guizhou province, where a sizable geological depression has already been chosen as the construction site. The undertaking is expected to last several years with FAST officially starting work on 2016.
A vast array of interstellar phenomena will be the daily work of FAST, whose powerful signals will be used to observe everything from distant stars to supernovas.
Even if it dwarfs its older sibling in Puerto Rico, FAST is expected to work in conjunction with SETI and will form part of a global network of similar structures. As for the prestige factor involved, well, the next biggest thing China can build after this is a giant space ship to colonize another planet. That, or a space elevator like on Gundam.
Source Popular Science