China is building the world's biggest radio telescope in its aim to search for life in space. Dubbed as the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), it is equal to the size of 30 football pitches and can detect extra-terrestrial life from a distance of around tens of billions of light years.

Scheduled to be completed in 2016 after five years of construction, the massive structure can detect radio signals from distant galaxies and solar systems. It is also designed to hunt for future energy sources like natural hydrogen.

It is currently under construction in Pingtang County, Qiannan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, southwest of China's Guizhou province. The construction has entered its final stage as technicians installed a 30-ton 'retina' in the telescope dish.

"A radio telescope is like a sensitive ear, listening to tell meaningful radio messages from white noise in the universe. It is like identifying the sound of cicadas in a thunderstorm," said Nan Rendong, the chief scientist at the FAST project.

The technicians installed around 4,500 triangular reflective panels to the huge steel frame that is situated in a natural basin surrounded by mountains. The retina was tested for a dry run as it is suspended at 140 to 160 meters above the half-finished reflector dish. Up to date, the total investment for the completion of the telescope has reached $200 million.

Started in 2011, FAST will be the most sensitive and largest telescope in the world. When it will be completed by Sept. 2016, it will surpass Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory which is 300 meters in diameter. It is designed to be three times more sensitive to signals than Arecibo, the setting in the 1995 James Bond film 'GoldenEye'.

"So far, one of the most important steps has been completed. We will finish installing all the panels by June 2016, and strive to debug the whole system by the end of September," Li Di, a chief scientist from the National Astronomical Observatories affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences said.

"With a larger signal receiving area and more flexibility, FAST will be able to scan two times more sky area than Arecibo, with three to five times higher sensitivity," Li added.

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