World’s Largest Radio Telescope in China Makes 9,000 People Homeless

by Sankalan Baidya

So China is building World’s largest radio telescope but that is coming for a massive cost. The cost involves not just the total financial investment but something grimmer. The telescope has displaced 9,000 Chinese people from their homes and all the government has offered is $1,837. There is no other option. They can take the money or they can refuse but they need to leave!

Why were the people displaced for the largest radio telescope?

The people who were displaced lived within 3.1-mile radius from site of construction. The reason they have been replaced is that this telescope may be threatened by cell phone signals, microwave ovens and other electromagnetic devices and equipment such as garage door openers. Unfortunately, people living in this area are too poor to have any such thing. So, possibly that’s not the reason why they have been removed. So, what can be the possible reason? May be the telescope can serious harm their health.

Location and specifications of world’s largest radio telescope

This radio telescope that China is building is massive and will cost the Chinese government $184 million. The telescope goes by the name FAST which stands for Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope. The construction has already started and is located Guizhou province. The construction of the telescope will be completed in September 2016.

As far as the shape of the telescope is concerned, it is circular and has a diameter of 500 meters. As of now, the completed largest radio telescope in the world is located in Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory and has a diameter of 300 meter. The circular framework for FAST has already been completed in the construction site. As of now, the circular structure is being fitted with reflectors which are of equilateral triangular shape. Total number of reflectors to be installed are 4,450 and each triangle has a measurement of 11 meters on each side.

The main difference between this under-construction world’s largest radio telescope and the one in Puerto Rico is that the ET hunter in Puerto Rico is fixed, while the Chinese are building one with active optics. This simply means that each reflector panel inside the circular structure can move to a new position with precision accuracy of 1 mm. Not just that, each reflector is capable of moving 40 degrees from the center of the circular structure.

largest radio telescope - FAST under construction in china

FAST under construction

Once all the reflectors have been installed, the workers will be tasked with the objective of installing what is known as Feed Cabin on top of the reflectors. This feed cabin will be capable of freely moving on top of the reflectors.

largest radio telescope

Structure of FAST telescope in China

The location for the telescope has been selected very carefully. It sits in a natural valley in such a way that the rainwater never gets into the telescope but is naturally drawn away from it. Much details are available about the construction progress and about the physical structure of FAST but the Chinese government has not released enough information about the specifications of FAST. The only thing that Chief Scientist Li Di from National Astronomical Observatories Chinese Academy of Sciences has revealed is that the telescope will be capable of answering many unanswered questions about astronomy, nature and humanity and will remain the best telescope that world will have for coming 20 to 30 years.

It is true that the world’s largest radio telescope has displaced many people from their homes but from scientific point of view, it will be one of the important instruments science will have for many years to come.


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