[ASC-list] Africa, Australia and NZ to share SKA

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Sat May 26 05:04:41 UTC 2012

So, after years of campaigning there's a result.

Southern Africa, Australia and NZ are to share the Square Kilometre Array - a giant radio telescope that will consist of thousands of separate radio dishes and other antennae spread across an area the size of a continent.

It was an interesting process. The South African team ran a strong campaign appealing to the heart and souls of the decision makers. At meetings around the world they talked about how locating this science icon in Africa would act as beacon for science in what we in the West once called the Dark Continent. And they clearly impressed the site committee with the quality of their science.

As an Australian I was secretly hoping that a comprise would be reached that would bring benefits to both continents. I think it's a good result for the world, even if it complicates the lives of the astronomers and engineers who have to make it happen.

Last year we produced a collection of stories on Australian astronomy. They include an account of the links between the Battle of Britain, the moon landings and the SKA; and descriptions and photos of the facilities that have already been built. Here are some highlights.

Full details at the links below.

Why are we good at radio astronomy?

Radio waves were detected from the Sun and our galaxy before World War II. But radio astronomy-the use of radio waves as a tool for studying the cosmos-developed rapidly only after the war powered by research into radar. Australia was one of the pioneers, led by CSIRO's forerunner, the CSIR. At the end of war, CSIR's radio group stayed together to continue research in peace time uses of radio waves. CSIRO's research grew rapidly with the creation of the Parkes radio telescope, known locally simply as 'The Dish', and later the Australia Telescope Compact Array built for Australia's Bicentenary.
More at http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/stories/editions/astronomy/radio-astronomy/

Looking forward to the Square Kilometre Array  - more at http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/stories/editions/astronomy/ska/
Australia's SKA demonstrator already booked out

It's not due to begin operating until 2013, but astronomers from around the world are already lining up to use CSIRO's Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). In fact, the first five years of ASKAP's operation are already booked out, with ten major international Survey Science projects looking for pulsars, measuring cosmic magnetic fields, studying millions of galaxies, and more.
More at http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/stories/stories-of-astronomy-2012/askap/

Managing a data mountain

The world's largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), is expected to generate more data in a single day than the world does in a year at present. And even its prototype, CSIRO's ASKAP, is expected to accumulate more information within six hours of being switched on than all previous radio telescopes combined.

Also Tracing cosmic rays from radio pulses -http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/stories/stories-of-astronomy-2012/cosmic-rays/

These links and more at www.scienceinpublic.com.au



Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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