Australia and NZ submit SKA proposal

47 agencies collaborated on the written proposal which aims to secure the $2.1 billion radio telescope

The CSIRO-run Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope will utilise fibre links from Murchison to Geraldton, and Geraldton to Perth

The CSIRO-run Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope will utilise fibre links from Murchison to Geraldton, and Geraldton to Perth

Australia and New Zealand have submitted a written proposal as part of the quest to host the $2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, with the final decision to be made early 2012.

The telescope is pegged to begin operating in 2020 and will have capabilities 10,000 times greater than any telescope currently used, enabling astronomers to examine the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.

Australian innovation minister, Senator Kim Carr, said 47 agencies across both countries had worked on the proposal in response to the request for information by the international SKA project.

“We have a remote site based in Western Australia with exceptional radio quiet characteristics and superb astronomy infrastructure. And, thanks to the National Broadband Network, Australia is rolling out the necessary fibre-optic links to allow SKA signals to be processed and transmitted,” Carr said in a statement.

“This is a huge collaborative undertaking, involving a number of nations and an array of cutting-edge technologies. It is important that the project continues to meet the agreed timelines for completion.”

New Zealand economic development minister, David Carter, said the project would produce innovation and science “spinoffs” for both countries.

“The SKA has great potential for innovative and high-tech companies and can inspire a new generation of scientists like the great Ernest Rutherford,” Carter said.

As reported by Computerworld Australia, the project has the potential to generate more data per day than the entire internet, according to International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) director, Peter Quinn.

The contribution of spare CPU cycles, requested from PC users as part of theSkyNet project, will also assist the bid.

TheSkyNet, run by the ICRAR in conjunction with Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, will draw potentially on thousands of donor PCs to create a ‘source finder’. This will form a distributed computing engine to scan data from telescopes and search for sources of radiation at radio wavelengths similar to those emitted by stars, galaxies and other objects in the universe.

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) recently provided an update on its role in the bid for the project, including a number of successful trials and a clear focus on collaborating with New Zealand to further develop the project.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags spaceSquare Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope

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