Lonely Planet Writer

China's giant alien-seeking telescope evacuates locals

As China grows closer to completing the world’s largest radio telescope – which will be used to detect radio signals and potentially signs of extra-terrestrial life – more than 9000 people living in the area will be relocated to make way for the project.

Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China.
Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China. Image by Google User Content

According to state news agency Xinhua, the residents in Guizhou Province will be evacuated “for the protection of the world’s largest ever radio telescope” before it is completion in September.

Anyone living within five-kilometres of the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will have to go to create a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The people will be given a 12,000 yuan (1838 U.S. dollars) subsidy, and those in an “ethnic minority household with housing difficulties will get 10,000 yuan subsidy from the provincial ethnic and religious committee”.

The telescope is aimed at detecting signs of extra-terrestrial life, reports the New York Times. Work began on the telescope in 2011 and it is expected to be complete in September.

The CBC reports that such large telescopes must be built in large and dish-shaped landforms, which is why it is being built in an inhabited area. The FAST project is being built in a wide depression far from cities, reports the Times, where it will face less interference.

According to CNN, the director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society said the telescope will help in the search for intelligent life and explore the origins of the universe.