Jun 16, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

China May Be Covering Up Receiving an Alien Signal with the FAST Telescope

China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is nicknamed Sky's or Heaven's Eye (Tianyan) because its main purpose when it went fully operational in July 2020 was to search for signals of extraterrestrial life. One would think that, if this is its function, a discovery of an alien signal would be heralded as a success, not to mention a ‘rub your nose in it’ announcement to all other nations involved in similar quests. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. China’s state-approved Science and Technology Daily media source announced the team at FAST has recently picked up several possible signals of extraterrestrial civilizations. However, the announcement was quickly deleted without explanation. Did FAST find extraterrestrial signals? Is China covering them up?

“A few days ago, Professor Zhang Tongjie, chief scientist of the China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group of the Department of Astronomy and Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group of Beijing Normal University, revealed that his team used the "Chinese Sky Eye" to discover several cases of possible technological traces and extraterrestrial civilizations from outside the earth.”

Does that sound like a ‘big reveal’ to you? It did to USA Today, Bloomberg and other mainstream media sources that quickly published it and went searching for more information. Professor Zhang Tongjie, often called "China's top alien hunter," leads the group at Normal University analyzing FAST data and in 2020 he revealed that his team had discovered two groups of suspicious signals of extraterrestrial civilizations in 2019 while performing the data processing of FAST’s synchronic sky survey observations as part of its set up and testing prior to going fully operational. Those signals put the team on alert to monitor a target area in the sky, and in 2022, the Sky Eye picked up the latest suspicious signal from this exoplanet target area.

Did FAST really get an alien signal (Not the FAST depicted)

“Zhang Tongjie said, the good news is that in the observation and data processing in recent years, For the FAST19 beam observation mode, the team proposed for the first time in the world the multi-beam matching mode for extraterrestrial civilization search and the frequency drift and polarization criteria of extraterrestrial civilization signals, which made the identification process of extraterrestrial civilization signals more scientific and complete.”

Zhang Tongjie makes it clear that this is a scientific discovery, and his team has developed methodology to identify extraterrestrial civilization signals – methodology Beijing Normal University openly shared with the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Berkeley, in a spirit of “tripartite cooperation.” Zhang Tongjie also bragged in the announcement that the "Sky Eye" is better than all other SETI telescopes because “it has a larger observation sky area, twice as high sensitivity, and 19 beams that receive signals from different sky areas.” He claims these three advantages may be why the late Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico (it suffered damage beyond repair by high winds and was intentionally dismantled) was unsuccessful in detecting alien signals.

"The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out. This may be a long process."

After inserting the usual scientific caveat that ‘more research is needed’, the report went back to referring to the discovery as signals of an alien civilization, noting that Peng Bo, director of the FAST Key Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory, publicly stated that the signals received by the "China Sky Eye" are likely to have signals from alien civilizations. Does this sound like a ‘drop the mic’ moment for China and the FAST team? Should the next step be a huge news conference to trumpet the discovery?

“It isn’t clear why the report was apparently removed from the website of the Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of China’s science and technology ministry.”

Bloomberg News was one of the first media sources to report that the announcement was taken down and that the Science and Technology Daily did not respond to requests for a reason. Fortunately, social media sites like Weibo managed to copy the announcement and keep it available to the general public. However, the question remains: why was the announcement of the discovery of an alien signal taken down so quickly after it was so scientifically defended? Other Chinese media outlets like Yicai Global kept the announcement on their sites. Could this be the result of a coverup, possibly to keep other countries from exploiting it?

“The universe is large enough that there is no need to fight for resources. Someday we may not be able to survive on Earth. We will need the help of alien civilizations."

In an earlier speech quoted by Yicai Global, Zhang Tongjie seems to contradict the possibility that countries will use such discoveries as  reasons to fight for the limited and dwindling resources on Earth and to contact extraterrestrials who might be able to provide more. Has he been silenced by higher-ups who have decided to protect the discovery just in case the signal really is from a benevolent alien civilization? Or do they think the signal more like the plot of “The Three Body Problem” series of science fiction novels by Chinese writer Liu Cixin which offers other reasons for not engaging in conversations with alien civilizations.

Did you get my message?

Again, the main purpose of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope is to search for extraterrestrial life and other exoplanetary targets. Zhang Tongjie, "China's top alien hunter," reminds us that organic molecules and amino acids that constitute life outside the earth have been discovered on asteroid, and he predicts the final discovery and confirmation of extraterrestrial intelligent life will happen soon … if it hasn’t happened already. also come soon. He even put one more brag in the now missing Science and Technology Daily report:

"We look forward to 'China Sky Eye' being the first to discover and confirm the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations."

Have Zhang Tongjie been silenced and his possible discovery of a signal from an alien civilization been covered up? Will we ever know?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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