The Australian Square Kilometer Array (SKA) consortium, led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in partnership with Aurecon Australia, has announced the completion of infrastructure design for its largest telescope. worldwide.
The team, made up of Australian engineers and scientists, designed everything from supercomputers, buildings, roads to the energy and data distribution needed to house the largest telescope at the Murchison Radio Astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.
SKA will be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever built and will cover over 1 million square meters.
SKA is an international program consisting of thousands of antennas installed around the world, with core operating centers located in South Africa and Western Australia.
"We are setting the stage to host 132.000 low-frequency SKA antennas in Australia, which will receive impressive amounts of data," said CSIRO Consortium Director Antony Schinckel.
"Data streams will be on the petabits scale, or millions of bits per second - more than the global internet today. All of this will move into a single building in Murchison.
"To get this data from the antennas to the telescope's custom supercomputers, we need to put 65.000 fiber optic cables."
The SKA telescope will explore the universe in unprecedented detail, CSIRO reports, making it hundreds of times faster than any existing installation. Only the server that will be used will be able to process about 100 million computers.
According to CSIRO, the SKA telescope will be so sensitive that it could detect an airport radar on another planet ten light-years away.
"This sensitivity will revolutionize the understanding of the universe and the laws of fundamental physics," the organization said. on her blog.
"Astronomers will be able to trace the growth of millions of galaxies in cosmic time, and perhaps eventually trace the nature of mysterious dark energy. That way they can detect the giant magnetic fields that run through the universe, and what creates them. ”
"Astronomers are also hoping that SKA will find something they have been looking for for decades: a pulsar orbiting a black hole. "Such a discovery would allow them to make even more demanding tests of Einstein's theory."
CSIRO and Aurecon engineers have previously worked together to design the infrastructure for Australia's SKA Pathfinder telescope, a 36-inch CSIRO radio telescope already operating at the Murchison Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Aurecon project senior engineer Shandip Abeywickrema said the design team's biggest challenge was minimizing the radio "noise" created by the systems at the high-tech astronomical observatory. He also said that it was necessary to avoid the "choking" of light signals from space, something that the telescope is designed to detect.
"The addition of interference generated by our computer systems and power is incredible," said Abeywickrema. "We are trying to reduce the level of radioactive emissions by a factor of billions."
The project was funded by the Government of Australia and the European Union. Construction of SKA is expected to begin in 2020.