China to Relocate 10,000 People for Telescope

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Four antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) gaze up at the star-filled night sky, in anticipation of the work that lies ahead. The Moon lights the scene on the right, while the band of the Milky Way stretches across the upper left. ALMA is being constructed at an altitude of 5000 m on the Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This is one of the driest places on Earth and this dryness, combined with the thin atmosphere at high altitude, offers superb conditions for observing the Universe at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths. At these long wavelengths, astronomers can probe, for example, molecular clouds, which are dense regions of gas and dust where new stars are born when a cloud collapses under its own gravity. Currently, the Universe remains relatively unexplored at submillimetre wavelengths, so astronomers expect to uncover many new secrets about star formation, as well as the origins of galaxies and planets, when ALMA is operational. The ALMA project is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. This panorama was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador José Francisco Salgado. Links ESO Photo Ambassadors webpage.

The Chinese government is planning on relocating almost 10,000 people to make room for the world’s largest radio telescope, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

Scientists leading the project called FAST say the telescope in the province of Guizhou will aid in the search for intelligent life in the universe.

Provincial officials say they would relocate 9,110 people within five kilometers of the listening device by September in order to prevent interference with the telescope’s electromagnetic waves.

The telescope, which is designed to be 500-meters in diameter, would dwarf the world’s current largest telescope which sits in Puerto Rico. The Arecibo Observatory is only 300-meters in diameter.

Provincial officials say each relocated resident will receive 12,000 Yuan or $1,800 in subsidies with some receiving further assistance for housing. The Chinese government has been known to relocate massive amounts of people to make way for infrastructure projects such as canal and dam building. Many affected residents have complained of poor compensation for relocation.

FAST will carry a price tag of 1.2 billion yaun. China is ramping up its multibillion-dollar space exploration program. It plans to establish a permanent orbiting space station by 2020.



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