The world’s largest radio telescope China completed Sunday could answer one of mankind’s oldest questions about the cosmos: is there other life out there?

China’s Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, could have the ability to detect alien life, as it searches space for strange objects such as neutral hydrogen, faint pulsars, and low frequency gravitational waves, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency. The telescope, which China hopes is operational by September, will be open to the global scientific community in up to three years.

The magnitude of the $185 million, 500-meter-wide telescope with 4,450 panels attests to the world’s increasing commitment to searching for other life in the galaxy. The discovery that life forms on Earth can survive in the harshest environments, as well as estimates the Milky Way, alone, has thousands of Earth-like planets, has spurred these investments.

“The telescope is of great significance for humans to explore the universe and extraterrestrial civilizations,” Liu Cixin, a science fiction writer, and winner of the 2015 Hugo science fiction award award for his novel, “The Three Body Problem,” told Xinhua. “I hope scientists can make epoch-making discoveries.”

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