Solar storms, space junk and the formation of the Universe are about to be seen in an entirely new way with the start of operations today by the $51 million Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope.
The first of three international precursors to the $2 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, the MWA is located in a remote pocket of outback Western Australia. It is the result of an international project led by Curtin University and was officially turned on by Australia’s Science and Research Minister, Senator Kim Carr.
AARNet and CSIRO have collaborated to deliver a transmission network for the MWA. The network is installed on fibre optic infrastructure constructed by AARNet for the CSIRO and by Nextgen Networks for the federal government-funded Regional Backbone Blackspots Program.
Using bleeding edge technology, the MWA will become an eye on the sky, acting as an early warning system that will potentially help to save billions of dollars as it steps up observations of the Sun to detect and monitor massive solar storms. It will also investigate a unique concept which will see stray FM radio signals used to track dangerous space debris.
The detailed observations will be used by scientists to hunt for explosive and variable objects in the Milky Way such as black holes and exploding stars, as well as to create the most comprehensive survey of the Southern Hemisphere sky at low radio frequencies.
From today, regular data will be captured through the entirely static telescope which spans a three kilometre area at the CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, future home to the SKA.
AARNet is providing the network services for the transmission of the data between the MWA sensors and the Pawsey High Performance Computing Centre for SKA Science, located 800kms away in Perth.
John Nicholls, AARNet’s Infrastructure Development Manager said “AARNet is providing a network that’s scalable to support the needs of the MWA now and into future early phases of the SKA”.
May 15, 2017
Following an extensive consultation period with the Australian research community, the Australian Government has released a roadmap outlining research infrastructure priorities essential for building Australian research excellence into the future. The focus is on national, landmark and global research infrastructure rather than institutional infrastructure. The 2016 Roadmap has identified nine focus areas...
Mar 24, 2017
The new Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, has acknowledged the importance of science and innovation for shaping Australia’s destiny. At his National Press Club address on 22 March 2017, the Minister spoke about Australia’s current economic setting and the challenges we face, specifically: ...
Feb 27, 2017
NEW CASE STUDY: Elephant seals fitted with sensors have collected data in Antarctica that is helping scientists understand how melting ice shelves are affecting the global climate system. Data collected by gliders is tracking warming in the Great Barrier Reef. And ocean current data has been used to predict speeds...