Around 9,110 people from Guizhou Province, southwest China, will be evicted to make way for a new supersized radio telescope.
As the construction of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) nears its end, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday that all residents from Pingtang County within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of the telescope will have to relocate.
Uprooted residents will receive 12,000 yuan ($1,800) in compensation, along with a relocation to elsewhere in the country or in the neighboring Luodian County. The move is supposedly necessary to create a "sound electromagnetic wave environment," reported the BBC.
China has been building the radio telescope since 2011, at a cost of around 1.2 billion yuan ($184 million), and hope to have it completed later this year. FAST's diameter of 500 meters (1,640 feet) will dwarf the world’s current largest radio telescope, Puerto Rico's 300-meter-wide (985-foot-wide) Arecibo Observatory.
But while the financial and human cost of this project may seem heavy, China has grand ambitions for FAST.
In July last year, Wu Xiangping, the director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, said to Xinhua, "Having a more sensitive telescope, we can receive weaker and more distant radio messages. It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe."