In a natural depression in southwest China, a device that some are calling the Heavenly Eye is probing the universe. This huge construction has only been scanning deep into space for just over a year, but it’s already made some incredible discoveries – and the scientists who operate it think more could be on the way.
The search for life across the cosmos has been going on since radio was first invented in the early part of the 20th century. In the 1980s matters became a little more serious, though, with countries around the world banding together to try to find aliens among the stars. But extraterrestrial life is just one of the things that the Chinese telescope is looking for.
The Heavenly Eye’s official name is the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope – or FAST, for short. It’s the biggest telescope of its kind in the world and the second biggest such single-aperture device. Only the Ratan-600 in Russia is bigger. So, by any measure, it’s certainly a gargantuan piece of equipment.