Did Chinese Telescope Sky Eye Actually Pick Up Signs of Extraterrestrial Life or Was It a False Alarm?

Yana Bostongirl

Have you heard of Fermi's paradox? It is something that baffled physicist, Enrico Fermi along with many other scientists and nonscientists about extraterrestrial life or the lack of it. Fermi perfectly summed up what was on everybody's minds in the form of this now famous question: "So where is everybody?"

So when news broke that China may have detected signals from alien civilizations, it created a buzz.

China's Sky Eye satellite, located in the Guizhou province, is the world's largest radio telescope in the world with a diameter of 500 meters (1,640 feet). Per reports, it launched a search to detect extraterrestrial life in September of 2020 following the discovery of two sets of suspicious signals collected in 2019 and one in 2022.

The report which appeared on the website of the Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of China’s science and technology ministry has since been removed for unknown reasons. Even though the report seems to have mysteriously vanished, it had already been shared on social media and picked up by news channels.

An excerpt from Bloomberg describes how the events unfolded: "In September 2020, Sky Eye, which is located in China’s southwestern Guizhou province and has a diameter of 500 meters (1,640 feet), officially launched a search for extraterrestrial life. The team detected two sets of suspicious signals in 2020 while processing data collected in 2019, and found another suspicious signal in 2022 from observation data of exoplanet targets, Zhang said, according to the report."

According to Zhang Tonjie, chief scientist of an extraterrestrial civilization search team co-founded by Beijing Normal University, the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the University of California, Berkeley, Sky Eye's sensitivity to the low-frequency radio band is crucial in the detection of alien civilizations. According to journalist Andrew Jones, this was what Zhang had to say regarding the suspicious signal: “The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed or ruled out. This may be a long process.”

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