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Australia Space Science

Decision Time For SKA Telescope Bids 45

angry tapir writes "An independent scientific committee will this week make a recommendation to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project's board of directors in London about whether the array's core should be based in Western Australia or South Africa. A further month of negotiations is likely before the countries are officially notified about whether they have won the $2.5 billion project. Once built, the SKA will be able to survey the sky 10,000 times faster than existing technology. Scientists hope the SKA will provide answers about how galaxies evolve, how the first black holes and stars were formed, and whether there is any other life in space. has posted an interview with the head of Australia's bid for the project, Dr Brian Boyle."
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Decision Time For SKA Telescope Bids

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2012 @04:27AM (#39057157)

    According to the article linked (interview with Dr Brian Boyle), China is helping fund the SKA and India are involved with another project in Australia (the Murchison Widefield Array)...

    Credit where credit is due!

  • by SpaghettiWestern ( 2575627 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @05:07AM (#39057339)
    The Square Kilometre Array Telescope (SKA) will delve further into the Universe than ever before, produce more data about the cosmos than modern-day computers can handle, and shift the focus of radio astronomy from the 'dish' to silicon.

    In essence, what we are seeing is the evolution of telescopes away from the concrete and steel that forms the antennas and into the world of supercomputing, says Professor Brian Boyle, CSIRO's SKA director.

    "The supercomputer is as much a part of the telescope as is the antenna.
    "In the 1960s you built really big dishes to take all the data, now you put all your effort into the silicon brains behind it," Boyle says.

    An array telescope is composed of lots of different antennas connected to a supercomputer via a super-fast fibre optic network.
    "So in the SKA's case we're talking 3000 antennas over a minimum distance of 3000 kilometres.
    "All that data is transported from the SKA at speeds of 400 terabits per second across the continent — that's about ten times greater than global internet traffic today.
    "Then it's processed by a super computer capable of doing one million, million, million operations per second — about one hundred times faster than the world's fastest super computer today," says Boyle.

    Scientists hope that by delving deeper into space than ever before they will be able to investigate fundamental questions about the universe, such as the evolution of galaxies, dark energy and cosmic magnetism, and probe the earliest stars and black holes.

    Source & further Info: []
  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @05:33AM (#39057431)

    Because we're ridiculously rich here in west australia, frankly. The money that goes through this place from mining is mind boggling.

    China makes a fair wad of cash too, but theres a billion or so people. Theres what, 2 million here in WA.

    And anyway, science owns.

  • by lawrencebillson ( 1136239 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @05:34AM (#39057443)
    The location in WA is pretty damn close to the tropic. The SKA guys have a pretty concise list of site requirements (See []) - officially they care about noise floor, ionosphere/troposphere, climate, comms, costs, long term prospects of the noise floor. If I were selecting the site I'd care more about a location being politically stable.

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