In the race to see which country will be the first to find extraterrestrial life, China has shot forward. The country has officially announced that at the beginning of July it finished construction on the largest radio telescope in the world. Its goal will be to study Space and look for signs of life among the dark vastness of the Universe.
The apparatus is beyond massive. It has a radius of 1640 ft (500 m). The spherical telescope has an area of 30 standard soccer fields. It was built in a mountain in the southwest province of Guizhou. By comparison, the largest telescope until now was in Europe, with its radius of 328 ft (100 m) or 1/5th the size of the Chinese champion.
Currently, Chinese scientists are working on the finishing touches of resolving errors in the computer configuration that operates the machine. The tests are expected to finish by the beginning of September.
"The telescope is going to have the potential to find and see even the smallest and strangest objects in Space. With it we'll be able to better understand the origins of the Universe. The telescope will also stimulate the global hunt for aliens, so to speak, " said Jian Zeng, assistant director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is also one of the designers of the telescope.
The gigantic technological marvel costs 1.2 billion yuan or $180 million. It's expected to be the world leader in space research for the next 1-2 decades.
Radio telescopes detect radio waves from Space. The enormous dish reflects the waves and focuses them into a single point. Due to the sheer size of the Chinese apparatus, it will allow for the detection of even the faintest signals from the heart of the Universe.
Construction of the telescope took 5 years. Its grand opening in September is expected to stir a real frenzy among the scientific community worldwide.
Advancement of China's space program is a priority for Beijing. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, has urged the country to prove itself as space superpower. The country's ambitions include putting a man on the Moon in 2036 and building a space station, work on which has already begun.