Scientists will be stepping up our galactic voyeurism game later this month by turning on the largest telescope ever to detect signals that may unlock age old secrets of the universe such as are we alone and into what mysterious void do my ballpoint pens and cheap sunglasses always seem to fall.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (or FAST, thanks to the Department of Clever Acronyms for Scientific Stuff*) is located in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. The final element to be put in place before the telescope could be turned on was a 30-ton “feed cabin” which collects all the signals, so yeah, it’s pretty important. Without that, 6 months from now scientists would feel pretty stupid when they went to analyze all the data they’ve gathered only to see the 30-ton feed cabin was still sitting out by the gardner’s shed in it’s Amazon shipping box, devoid of data. In fact, one of the scientists said pretty much just this…
Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of National Astronomical Observatories of China told Reuters “(The feed cabin) is the receiver of the FAST and the receiver is the most important part. It receives all the signals collected by FAST. It’s as important as the apple of the eye.”
Currently the telescope is going through some debugging procedures and collecting signals form pulsars.
*Or DCASS. We ask that you please ignore that their own acronym is quite lame.