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Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder Goes Live

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  • by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Friday October 05, 2012 @10:40PM (#41565677)

    It's not incorrect. ASKAP is referred to as a "pathfinder" project - an initial proof of concept that will eventually be rolled into the full SKA array -- most of which will be in South America.

    The SKA organization only came into existence formally last year. The ASKAP project was in progress long before that. SKA is in the "pre-construction" phase now, and won't even start building telescopes themselves until 2016.

  • by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Friday October 05, 2012 @10:49PM (#41565719)

    Blah... Built in South Africa, not South America.

  • Re:I'm pretty smart (Score:5, Informative)

    by Random Data (538955) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @12:21AM (#41566047)

    Don't be afraid. There's nothing harmful to click on on the internet! Oh, right. CSIRO.au links are generally going to be safe, though I'm sure someone somewhere will find something objectionably. Call it Rule negative-34: someone on the Internet will find *anything* offensively pornographic!

    Short answer: The SKA is (as the name suggests) a whole heap of radio telescopes spread out over 1 square kilometre. By using interferometry you can treat them as a giant dish about 1km across, which lets you detect much fainter signals and also increases the resolution, or ability to see detail.

    This pathfinder is a proof of concept that may be rolled into the full thing. At the moment it looks like the main SKA will be in South Africa, while a similar array with fewer dishes will be in Australia. The Australia version just had its official opening, which is what the story is about. But three paragraphs is too long for a submission, so there were links to sites with further info.

  • Re:I'm pretty smart (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @03:15AM (#41566467)

    Short answer: The SKA is (as the name suggests) a whole heap of radio telescopes spread out over 1 square kilometre.

    Other way round. Square kilometer refers to the combined aperture, not the baseline, which is much bigger.

  • Re:I'm pretty smart (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @04:17AM (#41566605)

    Here's a couple of cents from a (student) radio astronomer:

    The name of the SKA refers to the total collecting area of the telescope, not the area over which it will be built. So if it's built of dishes with an area of (say) 100 m^2 each, there'll be 10,000 of them, for a total of 1,000,000 m^2 = 1 km^2. They'll be spread out over a distance of thousands of kilometres - which, as you say, lets you use them as an interferometer with the same resolution as a single giant dish of that size.

    There are two main components of the planned SKA: the high-frequency part, which uses classical parabolic dishes, and the low-frequency part, which uses weird-looking omnidirectional antennas (like this [wikipedia.org]). The high-frequency part is being built mainly in South Africa, but part of it (ASKAP, the telescope in this story) is being built in Australia. The low-frequency part is being built entirely in Australia (and has its own pathfinder, the MWA [wikipedia.org]).

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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