China completes construction of half-kilometer diameter radio telescope

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The Chinese government has completed construction of the Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST. As the name suggests, it is a radio telescope 500 meters in diameter, making it one of the largest in the world.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua released the news of the completion. The last of a total of 4450 panels was installed on Sunday morning, the Chinese said. With the completion of construction, China claims to have built the largest radio telescope in the world, with a diameter of half a kilometer. However, the Russian telescope RATAN-600 has a larger diameter at 576 meters.

Astronomers are now getting to work setting up the new telescope. From September onwards, signals from space can actually be received. Among other things, the Chinese want to gather information about the origin of the universe, and the telescope should also help in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Construction of the FAST began in 2011 and cost 1.2 billion yuan. Converted, that equates to 160 million euros.

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