This therapy stops serious conditions from being passed down from mother to child. In this case, the five-month old boy was born to a Jordanian mother who was at risk of passing down a fatal and debilitating genetic disorder called Leigh Syndrome, which affects the developing nervous system. The mother had previously lost two children to the disorder, so she sought the help of John Zhang, a researcher at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City. As noted in New Scientist, Zhang performed the procedure in Mexico, where “there are no rules,” adding that “[saving] lives is the ethical thing to do.”
Mitochondria are the powerpacks that fuel every human cell, and just like the nucleus, they contain DNA. Unfortunately, inherited defects in mitochondrial DNA can cause severe or even fatal results. To overcome this problem, scientists extract two eggs—one from the mother and one from a donor. The nucleus of the donor egg is removed, leaving the mitochondria intact, and replaced by the mother’s nucleus. The resulting embryo is free from the inherited defect, resulting in a potentially healthy baby—albeit it with three parents.
Zhang and his colleagues tested the baby’s mitochondria, and found that less than one percent contains the harmful mutation. It usually takes about 18 percent of mitochondria to be affected before problems set in.
More important are the questions of safety and efficacy. Running off to Mexico to perform a procedure because it’s still illegal in the United States may push the science forward, but it’s clearly sending the wrong message.
Elon Musk finally revealed his plans for a mission to Mars today. But a new set of images from SpaceX show the Interplanetary Transport System going even further in the solar system than the Red Planet.
As we speculated yesterday, the plans for the ITS do, indeed, go well beyond Mars. Musk confirmed an interest in traveling elsewhere in the solar system, especially to Europa, during his speech today—and SpaceX confirmed in a tweet and with this new artwork, as well.
In the latest renderings from SpaceX, you can see the ITS heading past Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, and also Saturn’s rings. Other destinations appear to include Titan, Enceladus, Europa, or others. But before the ITS can make it way out there, the spacecraft has to show that it can get to Mars first.
SpaceX plans to build a “self-sustaining city” on Mars, according to its founder Elon Musk. But, while we now know a lot more about how SpaceX plans to get to Mars, details about how people will actually survive up there remain sketchy.
Musk dropped the news on Tuesday during an address at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he had promised to reveal how the company planned to send people to live on Mars.
“I don’t have an immediate doomsday prophecy,” said Musk, but he noted that he saw only two possible paths forward. “One path is to stay on Earth forever, and there will be some extinction event. The alternative is to become a multi-planetary species, which I hope you will agree is the right way to go.”
Right before the presentation, SpaceX released a mini-preview of what we could expect from its new Interplanetary Transport System. The system was previously called the Mars Colonial Transporter, until just a few weeks ago,when Musk changed the name after suggesting that it could take us to other destinations in the solar system.
As noted earlier, the video gives us a pretty good idea of the sequence of events for how the system would work:
In the video, first, we see the rocket lift-off from Cape Canaveral’s Launchpad 39a with 28,730,000 pounds of thrust behind it. After stage separation, the spaceships parks in orbit while the booster returns to Earth—where it lands. A propellant tanker is loaded onto the booster to refuel the spaceship in orbit for its trip to Mars. The tanker returns to Earth and the spaceship heads for Mars. The solar arrays deploy and the ships coasts until it finally enter Mars’ orbit. The ship lands on the Martian surface and then we get a glimpse of the astronauts looking out onto the Martian plains.
What we didn’t see in the video, however, is any kind of infrastructure that would support those astronauts to keep them alive after landing. Based on Musk’s comments, it sounds like SpaceX intends to send colonizers to a permanent city on the Red Planet. With 1,000 ships and 200 people per ship, Musk estimated that it would take 40 to 100 years to achieve a fully self-sustaining civilization on Mars.
One of the big barriers to doing that is the cost, which Musk estimated at about $10 billion. The SpaceX founder detailed four ways that he believed a ticket to Mars would become a possible purchase for many people—similar to buying a house. These methods include using reusable rockets, refuelling the spaceship in space, and using a methane fuel instead of traditional rocket fuels. Finally, that methane fuel could be harvested on Mars itself.
We also learned quite a bit about the rocket and what it would be like to travel to Mars. Just like the Falcon 9, the rocket booster on the Interplanetary Transport System will land and be re-used. (SpaceX has landed a number of its Falcon 9 rockets after flight, but hasn’t yet flown one of the used rockets back into space.) A key feature of the rocket re-usage plan is to send their Mars rockets back into space, so seeing a Falcon 9 rocket successfully make a second trip will be critical to convincing people that the plan is plausible.
The new SpaceX rocket will be incredibly large, dwarfing even the company’s Falcon Heavy and the world’s last tallest rocket, the now-defunct Saturn V.
If being locked into a spaceship for months at a time with a bunch of your fellow humans sounds a little grim, though, Musk says not to worry. “It’ll be, like, really fun to go—you’ll have a great time,” he says. Key to doing that will be making the inside of the rocket comfortable for the long ride, which for initial trips will last 80 days. Musk says that he eventually believes a trip could be brought down to a single month.
But whether this is really doable depends a lot on whether SpaceX can actually get the money together. “I would say it’s going to be a challenge to fund this whole project,” Musk noted. He spent a lot of time today talking about the economics of an individual ticket, which he said could drop as low as $100,000.
Musk hinted that he would personally be devoting assets to the project. “I really don’t have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets, except to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary,” he said. But even then, there would still need to be significant outside investment.
“I know there’s a lot of people in the private sector interested in funding a trip to Mars, hopefully there will be interest in the government side as well,” Musk said. “Ultimately this will be a huge private-public partnership.”
How quickly all this could happen would, in large degree, depend on whether that funding comes through at all. But if the money is there and all goes as planned on the technical side, Musk said we could see Mars flights begin as soon as 2023—although he cautioned that the timeline was still in-flux. He also kept to SpaceX’s original date for when we would see Red Dragon missions head to Mars in 2018 with payloads between 2 or 3 tons.
But while he described the project as a “self-sustaining city,” Musk did not go into detail about the kind of long-term infrastructure that would keep people alive once they got there.
“The goal of SpaceX is really to build the transport system,” said Musk, before suggesting that the Martian colonists themselves would do much of the building. “Who wants to be among the first to build everything, from refineries to the first pizza joint?” Musk asked.
But before we can build a pizza joint on Mars, people will need a whole lot of other things, including but not limited to clean and usable water, a space habitat capable of withstanding Martian environments, some kind of transport, and presumably some more people who would eat there. Musk also failed to explain who—if anyone—is actually going to build and maintain that basic infrastructure. Without it, the plan is unlikely to succeed.
For what it’s worth, Musk says that he’d like to make the trip to Mars himself—but only after putting together a Plan B for his company, in case of disaster. “I would definitely like to go to orbit and visit the space station and then ultimately go to Mars,” he said. “I have to make sure if something goes wrong on the flight and I die there’s a good succession plan and the mission of the company continues.”
If SpaceX’s plans to get to Mars do succeed, though, we could be looking at trips even further out. As I noted yesterday, Musk has hinted at the possibility of using this transport system to go beyond Mars—and it appears that future plans could be heading that way.
“If we have a propellent depot, you can go from Mars to Jupiter, no problem,” Musk said. “It means full access to the entire greater solar system.” He noted a particular interest in traveling to Europa.
The first step, though, would be establishing regular travel—or even a first trip—to Mars. And to see if that’s really possible, we’ll have to wait.
This Woman Lived With a Mystery “Pregnancy” for 3 Years
Warning: The images in this post are graphic.
By Sarah Schreiber
Sep 27, 2016
When Margaret Mcmahon, 48, of Belfast, Ireland, first sought medical attention in 2013 for a bloated stomach and abdominal pain, she was diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), a common, albeit uncomfortable disease.
Mcmahon, however, was not experiencing the routine bloating associated with the syndrome. She was living with what felt like a perpetual pregnancy, symptoms (a ballooning belly and frequent urination) and all. Mcmahon told the Sun, “It was like having a never-ending pregnancy except when you’re pregnant you’re going to have a baby at the end.”
Mcmahon’s stomach before being properly diagnosed.
After years of chronic pain in her hip and lower back and an emergency room visit, Mcmahon, a teaching assistant and mother of two, became suspicious that IBS was a false diagnosis. No longer able to experience normal life, she had to stop work and her social life “because there was so much pressure on my bladder.” She even complained of feeling sick after eating and remembers acute, stabbing abdominal pain towards the end.
Since doctors had yet to crack her case, she took matters into her own hands. She eventually insisted on a private CAT scan, which she paid for out of pocket. The diagnosis that followed validated her concerns.
As it turns out, fibroids are remarkably common in women over 30 (so common that most adult women experience fibroids at some point!), but are usually too small to cause pain or swelling. If they are larger, which occurs in about 25% of white fibroid patients and 50% of African American fibroid patients, lengthy, heavy periods, constipation, pelvic pain and pain with intercourse are common symptoms.
Mcmahon’s uterine fibroid was approximately seven inches long.
Mcmahon, however, was the unfortunate exception. At its largest, the mass was 18 centimeters (or about seven inches) long and had grown to the size of a watermelon. Three years of misdiagnoses and alarming symptoms led to an unavoidable hysterectomy.
After years of not being able to “drive even five minutes down the road without needing the bathroom,” Mcmahon was thrilled to return to the life she led before her uterine fibroid. Following her hysterectomy in March, she was able to enjoy a vacation in Spain with her family for the first time in years.
Self-driving cars. Some are horrified by the prospect. Others are excited. Whatever you think of them, however, they’re on their way. We’ve got the technology, and governments are working even now on putting legislative infrastructures in place which will allow their use. Quite what form these infrastructures will take remains to be seen – but it looks pretty certain that the first commercial driverless cars will be hitting a road near you pretty soon. One day, you may even own one yourself. Or possibly not, if driverless technology changes vehicle ownership trends (as it may well do…). Plenty of people think that driverless cars will bring sweeping changes to the world in their wake. This might be true, it might not – it all depends on what legislation accompanies their advent, and how the public receive and use them. However, let’s go out on a limb and have a look at some of the changes which could, potentially, take place with driverless cars…
General Motors’ Firebird II was described as having an “electronic brain” that allowed it to move into a lane with a metal conductor and follow it along
The industry most obviously and immediately affected by driverless technology will be the transportation industry. If your vehicle drives itself, it does not need a driver, after all. Lots of people are worried that this will put those currently employed to drive out of a job. However, this may not necessarily be the case. After all, while a driverless lorry may be able to get your parcel to your street, it can’t carry it to your door and get your signature. And while a driverless bus may be able to get you from A to B, it can’t provide security, or answer your queries about tickets. While there may well be technological solutions around both of these problems, it also seems likely at the moment that governments will insist on having someone qualified to take manual control of any driverless commercial vehicle on board while the vehicle is in operation – whether or not they are actually driving it themselves. So the outlook for bus drivers and delivery people isn’t as bleak as it may seem!
Ownership May Alter
For private vehicles, it could transpire that people will come to see cars as more of a service to be called up as and when needed rather than as individual possessions. If you can direct your car by remote control, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be out and about transporting other people from place to place when you don’t need it yourself. This poses some interesting questions for the private car industry. For example, if you can happily co-own a car with a group of other people, and if none of you are actually driving the car themselves, how will the current system of needing to be insured on the car you drive work? Will vehicle companies offer subscription services via which users can call up cars when they need them, rather than owning their own – like a remote control taxi, only cheaper? All very interesting, and something that the automotive industry is currently working upon rather feverishly!
The Volvo S60 Drive Me autonomous test vehicle is considered Level 3 autonomous driving.
If you can send your car off to park itself, and call it back when you need it, the problem of parking suddenly ceases to be an issue. Indeed, we could potentially free up an awful lot of land space currently occupied by car parks which must needs be within walking distances of houses, shops, workplaces etc. If self-driving cars could take themselves to a single depot when not actively transporting people, that eliminates at a stroke the necessity for shopping center and office car parks. You could even grub up your drive and turn it into a garden, or convert your garage into a games room!
As you’d expect, proponents of driverless vehicles currently claim that they’ll be a lot safer than what we’ve got at the moment. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen – but it’s almost certain that the safety specs for driverless cars will be different to those of manually driven cars. For a start, they’re likely to have electric engines, which are considerably smaller than petroleum-driven engines. While they’ll need space for the computer tech which will drive the car, these can also be rendered pretty small. So spacious hoods to house hefty engines simply won’t be needed. Currently, there’s a good argument for keeping a large ‘crumple zone’ regardless of what’s under the hood, as it helps to protect passengers during head-on collisions. However, the likelihood is that driverless car passengers will be in the back rather than the front of the car, meaning that the vehicle as a whole can be a hell of a lot smaller without sacrificing any ‘crumple zone’ advantages.
By Live Science Staff | September 27, 2016 08:30am ET
The Earth, Google Style
Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Dennis Chesters
Google Earth compiles images from various sources, from satellites in geosynchronous orbit that snap low-resolution photos from tens of thousands of miles above Earth, to satellites closer to Earth that capture higher-resolution shots and even aerial photos taken from airplanes, kites, drones and even balloons. The imagery is available to anyone who downloads the software, and archaeologists have taken advantage of the rich resource.
From a boneyard of military planes, to a polka-dot pattern created by ants, to mysterious structures etched into the Gobi Desert and even a phantom island in the South Pacific, Google Earth brings some wacky places to light. Here’s a look at some of the strangest.
(Originally published on LiveScience on April 18, 2013.)
Credit: Image copyright DigitalGlobe, courtesy Google Earth
Scientists discovered more than 50 geoglyphs across northern Kazakhstan in Central Asia, including this swastika-shaped design. Though the swastika symbol was created from timber, many of the geoglyphs were made of earthen mounds. The geoglyphs seem to date back 2,000 years. At the time, swastikas were not uncommon across Europe and Asia and were not of course affiliated with any political beliefs. [Read more about the swastika geoglyphs and other Kazakhstan designs]
This Google Earth image is an eye-full and a mouthful, as it’s an island-in-a-lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake-on-an-island. Yes, Google Earth captured this image showing a tiny island that resides inside a crater lake on an island called Volcano Island in a lake called Lake Taal on the Philippine island of Luzon. For years apparently, this phenomenon was thought to be the largest of its kind spied by Google Earth. However, it turns out that accolade goes to a 4-acre spit of land in northern Canada where no human has likely stepped foot.
Credit: Image courtesy Google Earth)
Google Earth has spied some old artistry etched into the surface of the planet, includingwheel-shaped structures that may date back some 8,500 years, making them older than Peru’s geoglyphs called Nazca Lines. Some of these spoked designs that dot Jordan’s Azraq Oasis seem to be positioned in a way that aligns with sunrise on the winter solstice. A team of scientists with the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East(APAAME) have been investigating wheel structures (also called “works of the old men”) with satellite imagery available through Google Earth. The wheels vary in their design, with some showing spokes that radiate from the center, others with just one or two bars rather than spokes and still others not circular at all and instead shaped like squares, rectangles or triangles, the researchers have found.
One type of these “wheels” in the Middle East looks like a bull’s-eye, with three triangles pointing toward the eye and small piles of stones leading from the triangles toward the bull’s-eye wheel. David Kennedy, of the University of Western Australia, who co-directs the project, calls it “a central bull’s-eye tomb with, in this case, three triangles each with at least a part of a connecting line of stone heaps running to the center.”
Credit: Google Earth via Google Earth Anomalies
This image from Google Earth shows an anomaly that some believe could be an unexcavated pyramid. Dozens of anomalies in Egypt have been detected using Google Earth in the past five years; however, there is a debate as to whether they represent natural features or artificial structures. More excavations are needed, but the security and economic situation in Egypt has limited the number and size of excavations.
Credit: Google Earth via Google Earth Anomalies
Eroded Egyptian pyramids or geologic features?
Credit: via Google Earth
In 2012, a group of Australian researchers “undiscovered” an island the size of Manhattan in the South Pacific. A mysterious place calledSandy Island had popped up on maps, northwest of New Caledonia. It even showed up as a black polygon on Google Earth. But when scientists sailed there in November 2012, they found open water instead of solid ground.
In an obituary for the island published in April 2013, the researchers explained why the phantom landmass had been included on some maps for more than a century, pointing to some human errors and a possible pumice raft.
Credit: Google Maps
On the wind-blown steppes of central Asia, in an isolated corner of Kazakhstan, there’s a large pentagram, measuring roughly 1,200 feet (366 meters) in diameter, etched into Earth’s surface. The five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, located on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir, shows up vividly on Google Maps, the online version of the more detailed Google Earth.
Many online comments linked the site with devil worship, nefarious religious sects or denizens of the underworld. Alas, the pentagram turns out to be the outline of a park made in the form of a star; the star is marked by roadways that are now lined with trees, making the star shape even more distinct in aerial photos.
Abandoned launch sites
Credit: Google Earth
Nike missiles, which were supersonic surface-to-air missiles, sat ready to launch at nearly 300 sites across the United States during the period from 1954 to the 1970s. Some of those missiles even carried nuclear warheads. Those missiles became obsolete with the advent of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Now, David Tewksbury, a GIS (geographic information system) specialist at Hamilton College in New York, hopes to preserve a visual record of the abandon Nike missile launch sites before they vanish — either as a result of being reclaimed by nature, repurposed by the military or redeveloped. His plan is to build a geo-referenced database so that anyone can research the Nike missile sites through Google Earth.
Here, one of those sites, the Oahu Defense Area in Hawaii, shown in 1968. The site was once equipped with missiles in open air with embankments between paired launch sites.
Credit: Google Earth
A spiral portal to an alternate universe? Maybe an alien message? Or an ancient monument to a supernatural being? This giant spiral design in the desolate Egyptian desert, not far from the shores of the Red Sea, is an art installation called Desert Breath. In March 2007, Danae Stratou, Alexandra Stratou and Stella Constantinides created the 1 million square foot (100,000 square meters) artwork meant to celebrate “the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind,” the artists sayon their website.
Riddled with holes
Credit: Google Earth screen shot
The civil war in Syria has imperiled hundreds of archaeological sites, including causing damage to all six of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, which is considered one of the oldest occupied areas of the Earth. Satellites, in particular, have shown much of this devastation, with some of the strangest imagery showing destruction in Apamea. There, Google Earth images have revealed the entire ancient Roman city has been pockmarked with holes dug by looters since the start of the civil war.
“It looks like the surface of the moon,” Emma Cunliffe, an archaeology researcher at Durham University in England, who has published a report documenting archeological damage in Syria, told Live Science in 2013. “In eight months, the looted area exceeded the total excavated area.”
Lake of blood?
Credit: Cnes/Spot Image, Digital Globe, GeoEye, Google
Outside Sadr City in Iraq, at coordinates 33.396157° N, 44.486926° E, lies a blood-red lake. There is, as yet, no official explanation for the color of this strange body of water.
Credit: Google Earth
An odd polka-dot pattern near the cinder cone volcano dubbed Vulcan’s Throne on the north rim of the Grand Canyon may have a simple explanation: ants. Turns out, the desert around the Grand Canyon is home to red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus). These pesky critters can create nesting mounds spanning some 47 inches (120 centimeters) across and are typically surrounded by bare ground up to 108 square feet (10 square meters), according to physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Politecnico of Torino in Ital. Sparavigna discusses her theory in a scientific paperposted online on Jan. 11, 2016. (The paper has yet to be peer-reviewed.) The mounds may be responsible for the aerial pattern of scattered circles, though Sparavigna says on-the-ground confirmation is needed.
Credit: Digital Globe, GeoEye, Google
The world’s largest island-in-a-lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake-on-an-island is a narrow, four-acre strip of land in Canada located at exactly 69.793° N, 108.241° W. The nameless island (that little-tilde shaped squiggle of green) lolls across the center of a small lake, which is itself encapsulated by a slightly larger island. That resides inside one of a series of long finger lakes located 75 miles inland from the southern coast of Victoria Island, a land feature in Northern Canada. This little “sub-sub-sub island” would never have received its strange distinction if not for careful trolling of Google Earth by map geeks around the world. In all likelihood, no human has ever actually set foot there. [Zoom through the island layers]
The Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., is where U.S. military planes go to die. Dubbed “the boneyard,” this 2,600-acre cemetery of steel at coordinates 32 08’59.96″ N, 110 50’09.03″W is closed to the general public, but Google Earth provides a high-resolution glimpse of what’s inside: virtually every plane the military has flown since World War II — from the B-52 StratoFortress to the F-14 Tomcat — in various stages of decay. A bit of trivia: The boneyard at Davis Monthan was used as the backdrop in the music video for “Learning to Fly” by rock music legend Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The band was shown performing amongst various aircraft hulks.
Credit: Google Maps
Found etched onto the desert floor near Mesa Huerfanita, New Mexico, are two large diamonds surrounded by a pair of overlapping circles. Author John Sweeney claimed that the site marks a hidden bunker belonging to the Church of Scientology. According to their website, scientology “is a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being,” according to the organization’s website. And such symbols on the desert floor are reportedly there to help guide these scientologists who return to Earth after fleeing a planetary “Armageddon,” writes the Daily Mail. Of course, the symbols will likely remain a mystery.
Credit: Digital Globe, Google
Newfound Google Earth images have revealed an array of mysterious structures and patterns etched into the surface of China’s Gobi Desert. According to experts, this is a secret military base, and the structures are used for a variety of purposes including weapons testing, spy satellite calibration and testing of radar instrumentation. The most elaborate feature, an intricate grid of perfectly straight lines that weave back and forth every few hundred feet for 20 miles (33 kilometers), is most likely a Yagi antenna array, a device used for weather tracking and other atmospheric research. [More Photos: Strange Structures in China’s Gobi Desert]
Credit: Google, Digital Globe
The S.S. Jassim, a Bolivian cargo ferry, ran aground and sank on the Wingate Reef off the coast of Sudan in 2003. At 265 feet (81 meters) long, it is now one of the largest shipwrecks visible on Google Earth, and is located at 19° 38′ 46.00″ N, 37° 17′ 42.00″ E.
Credit: Digital Globe, Google
These luscious lips are a hill formation located in Gharb, Darfur, in Sudan at coordinates 12°22’13.32″N, 23°19’20.18″E.
Credit: Sensis Pty Ltd, Digital Globe, Google
In Australia, at coordinates 30°30’38.44″S 115°22’56.03″E, a strange triangle dotted with bright lights appears in the middle of a field. When first discovered in 2007, ufologists were quick to call it a “triangle UFO” caught in the act of hovering above Earth. Other Google Earth users say it may be an antenna associated with a nearby remote-controlled wind farm. With three sets of wires forming a triangle, and a tower in the middle, the antenna likely receives and transmits control signals.
Secret military base?
Credit: Google Earth
A mysterious set of satellite images seen on Google Earth created a stir when an ex-CIA analyst told Wired.com he had discovered “structures” in the desert around Kashgar, a city in China’s remote Western desert that is part of the Xinjiang province.
Some speculated the buildings at the site were part of a secret military base. But with further analysis, Stefan Geens, a technologist and geospatial blogger who has spent months in that part of China, said the site was likely part of a major manufacturing or economic center. [See More Images of the Mysterious Chinese Structures]
Credit: Google Maps
Here, another image of the strange site in the Chinese desert.
One structure in the complex did somewhat resemble a helicopter testing area, analysts said there’s no reason it would necessarily be linked to military activities. Furthermore, the site is not ideal for a secret military base, since it’s relatively close to a major population area and no towers or barriers were spotted, said Stuart Hamilton, the GIS program director at the Center for Geospatial Analysis at the College of William and Mary.
You had a good run Arecibo, but there’s a new big dog in town. China has switched on the massive dish that now officially holds the record for the world’s largest single-aperture telescope. Among other things, researchers hope it will provide a big boost in the hunt for extraterrestrial life.
What’s been dubbed the “FAST” (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope) officially began operating around noon yesterday. It’s 200 meters larger than the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico which, at 305 meters, has dominated the telescope size game since the 1960’s. Just to give you an idea of the scale, FAST is roughly the size of 30 soccer fields.
FAST’s size matters. It’s tremendously powerful and has a field of vision that’s reportedly twice as large as the Arecibo Observatory. As far as sensitivity is concerned, the Chinese telescope is 10 times more powerful than its closest competitor, the 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany.
Peng Bo, a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories, told China’s official Xinhua news agency that “FAST’s potential to discover an alien civilization will be five to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets.”
The telescope will also help scientists detect more pulsars. That means they will have greater capabilities when it comes to tracing gravitational waves or ripples in space-time which could lead to a better understanding of the evolution of galaxies and the origins of the universe.
Building such an enormous project comes at a price. Not only did China invest $180 million into the construction of the telescope, but it also hascontroversially relocated between nine and ten thousand residents of the Guizhou province. Those citizens were rehoused in the nearby counties of Pingtang and Luodian due to concerns of magnetic interference.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made space exploration a top priority. In 2013, the country landed the first space rover on the moon since 1976. Plans have been set to build a space station by 2022 and land a man on the moon by 2036.
For the next two to three years, China’s astronomers will be given priority at FAST. It will later be opened to scientists around the globe.