Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Square Kilometre Array Nearing Completion

By David Reneke

Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array is nearing completion, and citizen scientists can help with one of the biggest astronomy projects of the next 10 years.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a multi-billion dollar international project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. Co-located primarily in South Africa and Western Australia, the SKA will be a collection of hundreds of thousands of radio antennas with a combined collecting area equivalent to approximately 1 km2.

The project is one of the largest scientific endeavours in history and will be more than ten times more sensitive and much faster at surveying galaxies than any current radio telescope. The unprecedented flow of data from the telescope will be supported by supercomputing facilities with several times the processing speed of any current supercomputer and one trillion times the computing power that landed men on the Moon.

The SKA will use two different configurations of radio antennas. Australia’s Murchison region will host the low-frequency component, while the mid-frequency infra­structure will be based in South Africa’s Karoo desert. Construction activities for the SKA is expected to commence in late 2020, with preliminary science results a few years after that.

With its incredible sensitivity, the SKA will look back 13 billion years in time to the universe’s Dark Ages. The SKA’s extraordinary sensitivity will allow us to indirectly study gravitational waves from powerful cosmic processes, such as a pair of orbiting black holes. The...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.