A 500-metre (1,640-ft.) aperture spherical telescope (FAST) is seen at the final stage of construction, among the mountains in Pingtang county, Guizhou province, China
Some 8,000 local residents were relocated to ensure a 5km radio silence zone around the facility. About $269 million were allocated to pay compensations to the villagers. The name FAST referrers to the main structure of the gigantic instrument, which has 4,450 triangular 11-meter panels and measures 500 meters in diameter. For comparison, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which held the title of world's largest radio telescope before FAST, has a 305-meter dish.
FAST was first brought online in July for trial observation and received a set of data from a pulsar about 1,351 light-years away, as Xinhua news agency was told by Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observation (NAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the project. China plans to use one of its best supercomputers, the SkyEye-1, to process the massive amounts of data supplied by FAST. At its peak the data flow is expected to require computing power of over 200 teraflops per second.
FAST is the world's biggest radio telescope with a single dish. The old Soviet RATAN-600 in southern Russia is bigger still, but, unlike China's new telescope, its 576-meter reflector structure resembles a donut.