More than the reception technology, this was the great challenge to be faced: the telescope will produce a data flow higher than the internet traffic worldwide. For the first time, supercomputers become an integral part of a radio telescope, transforming the project into the first “big data” observatory in the world. The project is called SKAO (Square Kilometer Array Observator), and has the task of explaining unsolved mysteries, searching for the origin of the first stars and galaxies, investigating cosmic magnetism, the nature of the gravity of matter and dark energy. And while it does this it may also be able to pick up signals of life from other planets. “A moment that we have been preparing for 30 years” commented Philip Diamond, general manager of the SKAO project “humanity is making a huge leap forward, with a structure of unprecedented complexity destined to reveal the most fascinating secrets of our Universe” . It took 7 years to come up with the optimal design of the new telescope, a job that involved over 500 experts from 20 countries to develop and test the necessary technologies. At the beginning of 2021 SKA Observatory acquired the status of an intergovernmental organization, which has among its founders Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, China and even Italy. Other countries involved are India, Canada, Germany and Sweden, while Switzerland, which is already present on the side of data collection and analysis technologies, is currently being examined by Parliament in the decision to become a member. active with the necessary funds at least until 2030.The project, in which 13 different countries actively participate, will cost almost 2 billion dollars, and a physical location partly in Australia and partly in South Africa, under the name of Ska-Low and SKA-Mid based on the range of frequencies they are able to pick up. The site in South Africa will have 197 dishes of 15 meters in diameter located in the Karoo region, 64 of which are already installed and operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). The site in Australia will see the installation of 131,072 2-meter-high antennas at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. Given the scale of the project, agreements have been made with local communities and indigenous peoples, in order to make the construction of infrastructures less invasive as possible and to ensure that procurement benefits the locals. existing, which pick up light, SKAO is based on the reception of radio waves emanating from celestial objects, collecting a mass of data never seen before (about 700 petabytes per year) which will be processed almost in real time by the most fast existing, to then be returned in projections to be analyzed for scientists from around the world participating in the project. A special agreement was made with CERN for a collaboration in the collection and management of the material arriving from the telescope. Construction should go on until 2028 with full operations by 2030, even if the research works can begin, in a partial way, already in the next few years.
Welcome! Log into your account
Recover your password
A password will be e-mailed to you.