World’s largest radio telescope takes a major step towards construction

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SKA Telescope Infographic

The SKA Organisation announced this week that the world’s largest radio telescope will be moving forward to its final pre-construction phase. Construction is due to commence in 2018.

The design of the €650M (AU$917M) first phase of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA1) is now defined, consisting of two complementary world-class instruments – one in Australia and one in South Africa – both expecting to deliver exciting and transformational science.

In the first phase of the project, South Africa will host about 200 parabolic antennas or dishes – similar to, but much larger than a standard domestic satellite dish – and Australia more than 100,000 ‘dipole’ antennas, which resemble domestic TV aerials.

Over the last 20 months, the international SKA project, involving 11 nations, has been engaged in a rigorous and extremely challenging science-driven, engineering process with teams from around the world working to refine the design of SKA1.

A number of Australian organisations and institutions are participating in the design, which is spread across a number of design teams. Along with CSIRO, AARNet is contributing to the Signal and Data Transport (including synchronisation) or SaDT element. The SaDT element is the backbone for the transmission of data and information between all the different elements of the SKA.

To support the data-intensive needs of the SKA, AARNet has upgraded the terrestrial section of the AARNet backbone to the SKA site in Western Australia to 100Gbps and also massively upgraded international capacity. AARNet is already providing data transmission services for the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescopes, precursor telescopes now operating as first-class instruments in their own right in Western Australia.

“This incredible telescope has a design, it is within budget, construction is around the corner, it will drive technology development in the era of Big Data, and it is going to deliver Nobel prize-winning science. In short, it will have an invaluable impact on society like very few enterprises before it,” said Professor John Womersley, Chair of the SKA Board of Directors.


Read the SKA Organisation media release

Visit the SKA Australia website


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