China starts construction on the world's largest radio telescope

If you want to search the universe for extraterrestrial radio signals, you're going to need a pretty big antenna, so China has just broken ground on what will become the world's largest radio telescope.

The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) will have nearly three times the surface area of the dish at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, the current record holder, and will be capable of receiving signals from as far as 1000 light years away.

While FAST will be joining SETI in the search for ET and his pals, China's main goal is to check out pulsars, supernovas, and other interesting things happening in deep space.

Building something this freakin' huge takes time (FAST is 1,640 feet across), so China says they won't be firing this sucker up until 2016. That means they will be right on time to pick up some hot signals that started their journey way back in 1016.

Cornell University Library, via PopSci

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