China’s Alien-Hunting Telescope

Drone footage of a massive project to search the skies.

Want a better chance of hearing extraterrestrial signals? Build a bigger ear. Construction on the 500 meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, should be completed sometime in September 2016. When it’s finished, it will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, capable of collecting radio signals beyond our own solar system. Construction hasn’t been cheap: the project will cost nearly $200 million.

The project is designed to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and help explore the origins of the universe. FAST will be able to detect radio signals from planets a billion miles away orbiting a million stars and solar systems, and help study new exoplanets, pulsars, and galaxies.