China is forcing thousands of its residents to evacuate their houses as the country prepares to construct a radio telescope they hope will locate aliens.
The building project, known as Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), is in Pingtang in China's south-western Guizhou province -- one of the nation's most poverty-stricken areas.
The telescope will become the largest of its kind upon completion in September, but that means 9110 of China's poorest residents will be evicted from their homes.
Despite the NZ$273 million cost of the new telescope, the residents forced to move will only receive 12,000 yuan (NZ$2750) to ease their relocation expenses.
The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is currently the biggest telescope in the world with its 300m diameter -- but FAST will be nearly twice the size once completed, with a diameter of 500m.
Chinese authorities boast that it will be able to scan an area twice as large as that of the Puerto Rican telescope, and will be three to five times more sensitive.
Once in operation, the telescope's 4500 moving panels will be able to detect radio signals from "distant parts of the universe", according to the Daily Telegraph.
The radio telescope will also have the ability to collate any of the radio waves received from potential extra-terrestrials for future analysis.
"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 Di, the National Astronomical Observatories chief scientist told China Daily.
"Ultimately, exploring the unknown is the nature of mankind, which is as visceral as feeding and clothing ourselves. It drives us to a greater future."
FAST began in 2011, and the telescope's construction is about two-thirds complete.