China is building the largest radio telescope in the world and will have to relocate nearly 10,000 people from its vicinity to ensure effectivity.
The telescope will be called FAST or the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope. Expected to be completed in September of 2016, the telescope will be 500 meters in diameter which surpasses Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory (305 meters).
This isn’t the fist time that China has moved citizens for construction projects. In 1902 the Three Gorges Dam build relocated 1.2 million people from the project location along the Yangtze river. The rationale behind moving people for FAST is to ensure a five kilometre buffer of radio silence. In this specific relocation citizens affected will receive 12,000 yuan ($1,830 USD) in compensation from the government.
According to Xinhua, a Chinese news agency, people are being moved so that the facility can have “sound electromagnetic wave environment.” It’s not just the people themselves; household and personal devices such as microwaves, remote car starters, mobile phones, and wifi signals can interfere with the telescopic radio operation.
FAST is expected to be so sensitive that it will dramatically “help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy,” says Wu Xiangping, the Director General of the Chinese Astronomical Society.
The dish will also be used to study cosmic phenomena that emit radio signals such as supernovae, pulsars, black holes, and galaxies. Studying these signals can help us glean information about their size, and distance from Earth. And since these objects are so far from us, we’ll need huge radio telescopes to be effective.