Economy, Sci & Tech

China’s Space Telescope to Displace Humans

China’s Space Telescope to Displace Humans
China’s Space Telescope to Displace Humans

China will move nearly 10,000 people to make way for the world's largest radio telescope that promises to help humanity search for alien life, state media reported on Tuesday.

The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), nestled between the hills of the southwestern province of Guizhou is due to start operation this year, AFP reported.

Provincial officials have vowed to relocate 9,110 residents living within 5 kilometers of the listening device by September, Xinhua reported.

The relocations will "create a sound electromagnetic wave environment", it cited a top regional official named Li Yuecheng as saying.

Residents will receive 12,000 yuan ($1,800) in subsidies for their troubles, with some getting extra support for housing, it said.

FAST, built at a cost of 1.2 billion yuan, will dwarf the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the world's largest radio telescope, which is some 300 meters in diameter.

Xinhua earlier cited Wu Xiangping, director general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying that the telescope's high level of sensitivity "will help us search for intelligent life outside the galaxy".

In the past, China relocated hundreds of thousands of people to make way for large infrastructure projects such as dams and canals. Many complain of poor compensation. The area surrounding the telescope is remote and relatively poor. Xinhua earlier said it was chosen because there are no major towns nearby.

As well as upping investment in astronomy, Beijing is accelerating its multibillion-dollar space exploration program, with plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually a manned mission to the moon.