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Australia Networking Space Science

New Zealand Joins Aussie Bid For Vast Radio Telescope Array 60

Posted by timothy
from the was-in-the-neighborhood dept.
schliz writes "A radio telescope in New Zealand has joined five in Australia to challenge Southern Africa to host the international Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in 2012. The newly connected telescope in Warkworth, New Zealand (PDF), is connected to an Australian data processing facility via a 1 Gbps network. Each telescope reportedly produces up to 1 Tb of data per hour of observation. IBM expects the whole of the SKA to produce an exabyte of data per day."
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New Zealand Joins Aussie Bid For Vast Radio Telescope Array

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  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:29AM (#32372584) Homepage

    I work on millimeter- and submillmeter-wave frequency radio telescopes in Arizona that occasionally do VLBI runs at 1.3mm (230 GHz). We don't have anything like a 1Gbps data link; it's more like 10 Mbps. It's hard to get the phone company to install a fiber cable run up a mountain.

    Our VLBI data are stored on hard disks at a rate of ~1 Gbps, then correlated later on some big computer back east. We have to wait days to learn if interference fringes were detected!

  • So slow... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:30AM (#32372590)

    When I imagine a future civilization, I always think of the technology they have and the consequences of that technology. I never took into account the large buffer between both.

    What stops humans from launching telescopes to Lagrangian points all around us?

    Sometimes I think we should create an outside enemy, just to regroup the entire species in a single entity, able to attack bigger problems than our tiny local quarrels.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:34AM (#32372608) Homepage Journal

    On a distantly related note I once worked with a guy who was doing synthetic aperture radar from a sled on the antarctic ice cap. On his return he planned to spend weeks manually reducing the data so I wrote a fortran program for him which did the whole job in three hours on VAX 11/730.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:42AM (#32372646)

    I drive past the warkworth telescope a few times a month. Rest assured, there are no sheep grazing beneath it. There are, however, cows in the paddocks surrounding the 'telescope patch' :)

  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:44AM (#32372656) Homepage
    It's all politics. There's the environmental impact problem. The folks who arranged for our underground power line really screwed up by not putting a fiber in the same trench; now it's virtually impossible to get the Forest Service to permit additional work. Four words: Mount Graham Red Squirrels!
  • by Siener (139990) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:14AM (#32374410) Homepage

    I've been following the bid process for SKA for quite a few years. As far as I can tell South Africa (together with its other Southern African partners) have a clear advantage over Australia (now together with NZ)

    There are a few reasons for this:

    1. The passing of the South Africa's Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act [ska.ac.za] in 2007 declares almost the whole of the Northern Cape province (an area about 1.5 times that of the UK) into an astronomy advantage area. Amongst other things it means that light pollution will be limited and that the whole area will eventually be turned into a radio quiet zone.

    2. Much of the technology used in South Africa's pilot program (MeerKAT [ska.ac.za]) will be directly useable in SKA. By comparison, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder project has much less tech that will be useable in SKA without major redesign and modification.

    3. Price. From the start keeping the price down was a very high priority goal for the SA bid. E.g. they developed a new process to manufacture the dishes that is much cheaper than conventional methods. Now, after the credit crunch where many scientific budgets are getting cut, this strategy is paying off.

    Disclaimer 1: I am a South African and therefore far from neutral
    Disclaimer 2: The last time I read extensively on this is more than six months ago, so if there were significant developments recently then I might not be aware of them

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