SKA News and Updates

 
 

This page is updated with news and multimedia highlights surrounding the SKA,
Australia's two precursor telescopes, and some personalities involved in the project.

South African students on exchange to CSIRO

 
30 October 2017


Two students from South African universities have been selected to participate in the second round of the joint CSIRO-SKA South Africa Vacation Work Scholarship. Charissa Button and Zahra Kader will be heading to Australia in December 2017 to work at the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) Headquarters in Sydney.

During the exchange, which concludes in February 2018, they will each undertake an astronomy-related research project. 'It is a wonderful privilege to be able to study Astronomy and to be part of the SKA Project,' said Button.

Read more about it here.

 

 

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SKA Board appoints new Chair

 
17 October 2017
 


Astronomer Dr Catherine Cesarsky has this month been appointed as Chair of the SKA Organisation Board. Dr Cesarsky takes over the position from Professor Lars Börjesson, who has been interim Chair since Professor Giovanni Bignami tragically passed away in May 2017.

Throughout her distinguished career, Dr Cesarsky has held the title of Director General of the European Southern Observatory, President of the International Astronomical Union, and Vice-President of the CERN council, among other prestigious roles and accolades.

Learn more about the appointment and Dr Cesarsky’s research and career achievements here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Synchronisation systems chosen for SKA

 
13 October 2017
 

An optical fibre-based synchronisation system designed by an Australian team from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) has been selected for the SKA mid-frequency telescope in South Africa.

When transported over the long distances between SKA antennas, the stability of transmitted signals can degrade. With this system, the signals can be synchronised with extreme precision – five parts in a trillion – before they are combined by the SKA supercomputers.

A synchronisation system designed by China’s Tsinghua University was chosen for the SKA low-frequency array in Australia.

Visit ICRAR’s website to find out more about their high-tech solution for the SKA. 

 
 

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SKA at the International Astronautical Congress

 
9 October 2017
 

IAC-AusGovBooth-300px.jpg
The 68th International Astronautical Congress was held in Adelaide, South Australia from 25-29 September 2017. The Australian SKA Office participated in a number of activities during the week, in addition to our presence in the Australian Government exhibition booth.

To find out more and see all the photos, click here.

 

 

 

 

  
 
 
 
 

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Mount Magnet Astrofest 2017

 
29 September 2017
 

The community of Mount Magnet was treated to an evening of stargazing and astronomy for ‘Astrofest’ on 25 August 2017, organised by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).

Public viewings of the sun and the night sky were facilitated by volunteers who set up telescopes including the largest privately owned telescope in WA. Locals took part in activities such as meteor spotting, a laser-guided tour of the night sky, science shows from Scitech, and opportunities to learn about the work of ICRAR and the SKA.

If you’d like to find out more about the Mount Magnet Astrofest and see some fantastic pictures of the event, head over to the ICRAR website.

 
 
  
 
 
 
 

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Backyard astronomy helps explosive discovery

5 September 2017

 

 

A member of ICRAR’s outreach and education team has helped observe a super-luminous "Nova" and confirm a theory of why these phenomena are as bright as they are—all with a backyard telescope located in suburban Perth. The paper about the result has been published in Nature Astronomy.

For more information and imagery, or to read the paper, click here.

 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 

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ICRAR's 4th Year Book released

21 August 2017

The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) has recently published Volume 4 of their Year Book, for the period 2015-16. This biennial publication captures key activities of the Centre and profiles its researchers and students through engaging writing and eye-catching imagery.

To read the Year Book you can view it online, or simply download the pdf.

 

 

  

 

 
 
 

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CNET showcases the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory

7 August 2017

As part of CNET’s innovation series called “The Smartest Stuff”, journalist Michelle Starr visited the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) and toured the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder and Murchison Widefield Array telescopes. Read the article here to find out more about the trip, and intriguing stories of the unexpected challenges faced by the engineers and scientists as they built the MRO’s infrastructure.

In addition to the article, you can also see photos from the visit here.

 

 
 
 

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Ministers visit SKA site

4 August 2017
 

On Wednesday 2 August 2017 the Australian and West Australian Science Ministers toured the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) to learn about Australia’s preparations for the SKA telescope. During the visit, the Ministers learned about the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and the SKA low-frequency test array recently deployed on site. They also toured the MRO Control Building and the on-site off-grid power station.

Read the full story and see photos from the visit here.

 

 

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SKA Scholarship opportunities to Australia for Chinese PhD students and Postdocs

1 August 2017
 

Applications have recently opened for China SKA PhD scholarships and SKA Postdoctoral Fellowships. Recipients will undertake placements of up to 2 years at an Australian university or research institution, including CSIRO, while working on projects related to SKA radio astronomy.

These opportunities are sponsored by ACAMAR, the Australian-China Consortium for Astrophysical Research, in conjunction with both Australian and Chinese research centres. The Australian National University’s Centre for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) is supporting PhD scholarships and PhD travel scholarships. NAOC, the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, will be co-funding the ACAMAR SKA Postdoctoral Fellow position.

Applications close on 25 September 2017, with announcements made by the end of the year. For more information, including the list of participating Chinese Universities and application requirements, please see the PhD scholarships webpage, and the Fellowship Scheme webpage.

 
 
 
 

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SKA-CERN Cooperation Agreement on Big Data

18 July 2017
 

SKA Organisation and CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, today signed an agreement formalising their growing collaboration in the area of extreme-scale computing. When phase 1 of the SKA is completed, it will generate around 300 petabytes of data products every year. Despite phase 1 only representing 10% of the whole SKA, this amount of data is still ten times more than today’s biggest science experiments.

Read more about this agreement between two of the largest producers of science data on the planet on the SKA Organisation website.

 
 
 

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ASKAP Discovers Its First Fast Radio Burst

23 May 2017
 

The ASKAP radio telescope has discovered its first Fast Radio Burst (FRB) after only four days of searching. The discovery came so quickly that ASKAP near Geraldton in Western Australia, looks set to become a world leader in this area of radio astronomy. The signal, named FRB170107, originated from the edge of the constellation Leo.

You can read more about the discovery here.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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7.6 Million in Pre-construction Grants Awarded

17 May 2017
 

The Australian Government has awarded $7.6 million to Australian organisations to support their work to design the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The funding is being provided through the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda as part of the second round of the SKA Pre-construction Grants Program. It builds on $18.8 million provided in the first round of grants in 2013, and will allow for continued development of key components of the SKA. Once designed, construction of the SKA in Australia and South Africa is due to begin later this decade.

To learn more click here.

 
 
 

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New SKA Headquarters Breaks Ground

28 April 2017
 

The Office of the Square Kilometre Array Organisation broke ground on a new global headquarters building today. Located at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in County Cheshire (UK), the headquarters building will be home to more than 135 staff from more than 13 countries, tasked with managing the construction and operations of the Square Kilometre Array telescope, in South Africa and Australia.
 

You can read more here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Radio National Features ASKAP

2 April 2017
 

Ann Jones of Radio National's program 'Off Track' recently visited the ASKAP and Murchison Radio Observatory. She interviewed Aboriginal Liaison Officer Leonie Boddington about the history and culture of the land upon which the Radio Telescope sits. Additionally ASKAP project director Anthony Schinckel discusses the science and infrastructure at the site.  

You can read more here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Scholarship Helps South African Students 

22 March 2017
 

Recently two students from South Africa participated in a summer scholarship programme sponsored by CSIRO and SKA South Africa to study projects supporting SKA. This marks the first time the programme has been open to students outside Australia. They collaborated with Australian researchers to investigate pulsars and machine learning for the SKA. It is anticipated that this summer school will continue in the future to foster further astronomy collaboration between Australia and South Africa.  

You can read more here

 
 
 
 
South African students Tokiso Motoai and Katherine James
 
 
 

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Speaker Series: Dawn of the New Space Age

20 March 2017
 
 
 
 

If you are in Canberra on 4 April don't miss Professor McClure-Griffiths speak about the SKA and the future of radio astronomy research. The SKA will be more powerful than previous telescopes giving researchers the opportunity to glimpse further into the past. Learn how Professor McClure-Griffiths will increase our understanding of the Milky Way using the SKA by attending her talk.

 

Find out more here.

 
 
 
 

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OzSKA 3 Meeting - May 2017 

20 March 2017
 
 
 

Following the success of the previous OzSKA meetings a 3rd meeting will be held in Sydney 8-9 May 2017. The meeting will provide updates to the Australian astronomical community about recent progress in the SKA project including: the development of key science and working group activities, progress towards the realisation of scientific operations on SKA1, and the SKA in the context of multi-wavelength astronomy.

You can register for OzSKA 3 by following this link. Registration closes 28 April 2017.

 
 
 
 

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The Science Behind the SKA: One Engineers Story 

10 March 2017

 

The SKA is one of the most complex scientific instruments ever developed. It will require a large international team from a variety of disciplines to make the project a reality. One research engineer, Mia Baquiran is doing just that. 

You can read about her work here

 

 
 
 

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Cosmos Magazine Chronicles SKA

27 February 2017

Science Magazine Cosmos has done a cover story on the SKA. The article discusses the technological hurdles facing the SKA as well as the management of the project.

 
You can read the full article here
 
 
 

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SKA Featured in Australian Financial Review

24 February 2017

The Australian Financial Review has published an article on the SKA after a visit to the site in Western Australia. The article discusses the challenges of building a large-scale project as well as the organisations, people and science behind its development.

 
You can read the full article here
 
Local wildlife exploring the Murchison Widefield Array.
   Credit: Trevor Collens
 
 

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Minor Planet Named Bernardbowen

18 February 2017

Founding chair of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Dr Bernard Bowen, has been honoured for his scientific accomplishments by having a minor planet named after him. He was instrumental in establishing ICRAR in 2009, an important milestone in bringing part of the Square Kilometre Array telescope to Western Australia. He is renowned as one of Australia's finest science administrators.

 


An image showing the orbit of Minor Planet Bernardbowen. Credit: IAU
 
 

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Australia-New Zealand Agreement Supports SKA Collaboration

17 February 2017

 

The Australian and New Zealand governments have signed a cooperative agreement to maximise research and innovation opportunities between the nations. Under the Agreement, Australia and New Zealand will work together to further develop data management capabilities for the SKA. 

To learn more click here.

 

 

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SKA Telescope is Recruiting

9 February 2017  
 

There are two positions available with the SKA Organisation in the United Kingdom.

  • System Engineer (Verification)
  • SKA VLBI Scientist

Applications close starting 18th February. For more information and to apply online please visit the SKA Telescope site

 
 
 

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Promising Result from Dutch SKA Pathfinder Technology

3 February 2017
 

The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) has successfully tested their new multi-pixel receiver capable of mapping an area of the sky 40 times larger in a single session than traditional radio receivers.

The technology is similar to CSIRO’s award-winning Phased Array Feed receivers developed for the Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope. Australia, the Netherlands and other SKA partner countries will collaborate to further develop this technology for integration into the SKA.



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March 2017 SKA-Low Meeting

12 January 2017
 

The second call has gone out for the 'Realising SKA-­Low: new technologies & techniques for imaging and calibration of low frequency arrays’ conference to be held in Perth on 29-31 March 2017.

A large body of knowledge has been accumulated in the field of low frequency radio astronomy in recent years. The conference is to share this information and assess how lessons learned from the SKA pathfinders and precursors and other low frequency arrays can inform the final design of SKA-Low.

The program will be a mix of invited and contributed papers. A draft program is available here.

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SKA to Illuminate Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts

22 November 2016
 

The SKA will be well positioned to cast light on one of the greatest mysteries of radio astronomy. Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) have puzzled astronomers since the first detection of one at the SKA pathfinder telescope at Parkes in 2001.

They are brief (around 0.1% of the time it takes a human to blink), but very intense, pulses of radio waves that most likely originate from outside the Milky Way. Many potential FRB sources have been suggested; everything from a neutron star colliding with a black hole, to contaminating signals from radio sources on Earth. Some have even speculated that FRBs are signals transmitted by alien civilisations.

Even though only eighteen FRBs have been detected, two recent detections indicate that they should be common. With its ability to observe large parts of the sky at once and rapidly process observational data, the SKA will be able to detect and locate FRBs at an unprecedented rate. You can read more about FRBs and the most recent detection of one here.



The intensity of Fast Radio Burst 150807 at different radio frequencies or colours—red corresponds to lower frequencies and blue to higher frequencies. Credit: V. Ravi/Caltech.
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Australian SKA Fellowships Programme Recipients Announced

2 November 2016
 

Congratulations to the four recipients of the first round of the Australian SKA Fellowships Programme:

Natasha Hurley-Walker

Attila Popping

Martin Myer

Warren Bax

The recipients will be spending 4 months at the SKA headquarters in the UK where they will contribute to the delivery of the SKA. You can read more about the Fellowships Programme hereWatch this space for future fellowship opportunities.

 
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MWA Completes Technicolour Radio Survey of the Sky

27 October 2016
 

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) has produced one of the largest radio surveys of the sky ever.

The GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA, or ‘GLEAM’ survey is a large-scale, high resolution survey of the sky. GLEAM will be used to explore remnants of explosions from ancient stars, the beginning and end of supermassive black holes, and what happens when clusters of galaxies collide. While previous radio surveys have been performed in a narrow frequency band, GLEAM has observed the sky across a much wider band. By viewing such an exceptionally broad spectrum of ‘radio colours’, astronomers will be able to discern and explore new features of the sky.

As well as being an extremely valuable resource for scientists, completion of the GLEAM survey is a big step towards SKA-Low. Lessons learned from the survey will help fine-tune the development of SKA-Low which will be capable of making even deeper observations into the universe. You can read more about the survey here.


 
A ‘radio colour’ view of the sky above a ‘tile’ of the MWA. Credit: Radio image by Natasha Hurley-Walker (ICRAR/Curtin) and the GLEAM Team. MWA tile and landscape by Dr John Goldsmith / Celestial Visions. 
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CSIRO is Recruiting 

24 October 2016
 

The CSIRO is looking for an SKA Information Officer. Applications close 9th November 2016. For more information and to apply online click here.

 
 
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SKA Telescope is Recruiting

24 October 2016
 
 

There are five open positions at the SKA Organisation in Chesire, UK: 

  • Engineering Project Manager: Science Data Processor & Telescope Manager
  • LOW Telescope Engineer
  • MID Telescope Engineer
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Regional Centre Coordinator

Applications close beginning 31st October. For more information and to apply online visit the SKA Telescope site.

 
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HI4PI Survey Maps the Milky Way

21 October 2016
 

Astronomers using the SKA Pathfinder Parkes telescope and the Effelsberg 100m Radio Telescope in Germany have produced the most detailed map of neutral hydrogen in the Milky Way to date.

While neutral hydrogen is quite easy to detect, mapping the whole sky is a significant achievement. As well as revealing never before seen structures in the Milky Way and enabling astronomers to explore galaxies at even greater distances, the data produced by the HI4PI project will complement that produced by the SKA, providing astronomers with the clearest picture of the universe yet.

The decade long project has already created quite a buzz in the media. You can read more about it here.



The HI4PI map. Credit: Benjamin Winkel and the HI4PI collaboration.

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The First Pietro Conference: Australian Radio Astronomy in the Era of the SKA

20 October 2016
 

The First Pietro Baracchi Conference, entitled ‘Italo-Australian Radio Astronomy in the Era of the SKA’ will be held in Perth on 1-4 November 2016. The conference will bring together Italian and Australian researchers from all areas of radio astronomy to boost research collaboration between the countries.

The conference is the first in a series of meetings planned to alternate between Australia and Italy. These meetings illustrate the strong relationship between the Australian and Italian scientific communities, and our collaborative efforts on the SKA.

The conference is named in honour of Pietro Baracchi; an Italian astronomer who immigrated to Australia in the late 1800s. While holding posts at the Melbourne Observatory, Baracchi made a number of notable contributions to astronomy in Australia. These included the observation of solar eclipses and southern nebulae, and a major contribution to the Astrographic Catalogue 1900 - known at the time as one of the largest international science projects ever undertaken.

Read more about the conference here.

 
Pietro Baracchi
 
 
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SKA Puts its Stamp on History

7 October 2016 

The Netherlands have issued a new stamp series immortalising the Murchison Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope and the soon to be constructed SKA-Low array.

The stamp series is part of a celebration of the 400 year relationship between Australia and the Netherlands, and our shared history of exploration, emigration and research - a history that continues through collaboration on the SKA.

You can read more about the stamp series here.



The new stamp sheet from The Netherlands. Credit: PostNL
 
 
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Collapsed - More updates: July - September 2016

 Australian Technology Used in FAST Telescope

27 September 2016 

FAST - the largest filled single-dish telescope in the world, located in the southwestern province of Guizhou, China, began operation on Sunday, and it relies on a piece of technology developed in Western Australia.

The technology, developed jointly by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth and the European Southern Observatory, is a software system called the Next Generation Archive System (NGAS). It will help collect, store and transport the huge amounts of data produced by FAST in its search for neutron stars and extra-terrestrial life.

As an official SKA pathfinder telescope, the deployment of the NGAS to FAST will contribute to the development of science and technology for the SKA. You can read more about the NGAS here.

 
The FAST Telescope. Credit: Prof. Andreas Wicenec/ICRAR
 
 
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New Astrophysics Centres of Excellence to be Established

12 September 2016
 

The Government has announced it will provide funding to establish nine new Centres of Excellence, including two focused on astronomy research. These are the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (CAASTRO-3D), and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGRav).

CAASTRO-3D - headed by the Australian National University - will combine radio and optical astronomy to produce multi-dimensional models of galaxies. The SKA is expected to play a key role in this process, contributing to our understanding of the internal dynamics of galaxies and the origin of matter. Click here to discover more about CAASTRO-3D.

OzGRav - led by Swinburne University of Technology - will develop the use of gravitational waves as a tool to understand the universe and the extreme physics of black holes and warped spacetime. Telescopes like the SKA will play an important and complimentary role in the new era of gravitational wave astronomy pioneered by groups like OzGRav. You can read more about the Centres of Excellence here.



 
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ASKAP’s Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith Wins Eureka Prize

1 September 2016
 

Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith, a CSIRO radio astronomer and project scientist for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), has been awarded the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. The award “recognises her enthusiasm for the project and her capacity to articulate complex science to the general public with an insatiable appetite for all things astronomy".

Growing up with BBC TV shows like Tomorrow's World, and watching Helen Sharman​ become the first British woman in space, Dr Harvey-Smith was inspired to look to the stars. "There are no bigger questions than the ones being asked by astronomers. Where do we come from, where are we going and are we alone?" 

Dr Harvey-Smith’s work on ASKAP is helping to prepare for the full Square Kilometre Array in Australia and South Africa.  You can read more at the Sydney Morning Herald and explore the 2016 Eureka Prizes here.

 
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World’s Second Fastest Supercomputer Runs Software for the World’s Largest Telescope

23 August 2016

Prototype software developed to manage data from the Square Kilometre Array has been run on the world’s second fastest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, in China. The effort was achieved by an international team led by Professor Tao An from Shanghai Astronomical Observatory and Professor Wicenec from the University of Western Australia. 

The prototype is being developed for the SKA Science Data Processor, which will process the raw observations produced by the telescope, converting them into data that may be analysed by astronomers.

The prototype software was run on 1000 nodes of the supercomputer. The next step is to increase the number of nodes to 8500 – the number that is expected to be in the computer that will process SKA data. You can read more at the ICRAR site.

 
 
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SKA Precursor, the Murchison Array, Observes One Million Years into Supernova’s Past

 5 August 2016
 

An international team of researchers led by the University of Sydney have used the Murchison Widefield Array – an SKA precursor telescope – to observe the remnant of supernova 1987A. The supernova is the closest and brightest supernova ever viewed from Earth. By observing the remnant in the 72MHz-230MHz frequency band – the lowest frequency observations of the object ever collected - the researchers were able to probe a remarkable one million years into the past of the remnant, revealing new details about stellar explosions.

The isolation of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, where the telescope is located, means that faint low frequency radio signals from space are not drowned out by terrestrial FM radio. This was key to the discovery and demonstrates the kind of result that will be possible when SKA-Low is operational at the same site. You can read more at the CAASTRO site.

 
Artist's impression of a supernova shock front. Credit: CAASTRO
 
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SKA Telescope is Recruiting 

27 July 2016

There is a position available for the Head of Contracts and Procurement at the SKA Organisation in Chesire, UK. Applications close 21st September 2016. For more information and to apply online please visit the SKA Telescope site.

 
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New, Super-precise Technology for the SKA Developed by Australian Researchers

12 July 2016
 

Australian researchers have developed new synchronisation technology for the SKA that performs up to 100 times better than required.

The component – a frequency synchronisation system – would allow the SKA telescope to collect extremely sensitive data even though the telescope antennas are separated by hundreds of kilometres. The synchronisation system, tied to an atomic clock, continually measures and corrects for signal changes in the fibres connecting the individual antennas. The system is so precise that a clock relying on it would only gain or lose a second after three million years.

This work is the result of a great collaboration between researches from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), The University of Western Australia School of Physics and CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. A final decision on technology for the frequency stabilisation system for the SKA will be made in the coming months. You can read more about the technology at the ICRAR site.

setup.jpg
 
UWA’s prototype SKA frequency synchronisation system
 
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FAST Telescope Construction Complete

4 July 2016
 

 

China has placed the final piece of what will be the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. Located in the southwestern province of Guizhou, the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is bigger than 30 soccer fields and took more than five years to build. It is hoped that FAST will be operational in September after a few months of testing.

Australian organisations have contributed to elements of FAST. In particular, CSIRO designed and built  the telescope's 19-beam receiver. Australia has a strong relationship with China in the sphere of radio astronomy. In addition to being a fellow SKA member, China and Australia have recently established the Australia- for Astrophysical Research (ACAMAR).ChinA ConsortiuM for Astrophysical Research (ACAMAR). Read more at the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald websites. ​

FAST.jpg
 
The FAST Telescope on completion after the last of the 4,450 panels was installed. Credit: Prof. Andreas Wicenec/ICRAR
  
 
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More updates: April - June 2016

SKA-mid Dish Design Decided

16 May 2016


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project has selected the design for the SKA-mid dish. This opens the way for the eventual production of hundreds of dishes that will make up the world’s largest radio telescope.

“This decision is a major milestone towards delivering the SKA,” said Alistair McPherson, Head of Project at SKA Organisation. “Being able to “see” what the SKA dishes will look like for the first time is a big satisfaction for all involved.”

Three antenna concepts were built to be considered for the design of the SKA dish: DVA-1 in Canada, DVA-C in China, and MeerKAT-1 in South Africa. All three were constructed using different technology from the different partners. Each represented the very best in radio telescope dish technology currently available.

A selection panel of five engineering experts assessed the dishes and made a unanimous recommendation that the Chinese Panel, Space-frame supported Metal (PSM) concept should be selected. The recommendation that was then approved by the SKA Dish Consortium Board.

The next step will be to build and test a prototype at the South African site. Read more about the dish at the SKA Organisation website.

 

SKA-mid-artists-impression.jpg

An artist impression of the full SKA at night, with the selected Panel Space-frame supported Metal (PSM) SKA dish
design in the foreground.

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Third Treaty Negotiations take place in Rome

 27 April 2016

Last week from 19-21 April the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome hosted the third Treaty negotiations. The negotiations are to facilitate the transition of the SKA Organisation into an Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO). During the three days, delegates from the project’s respective member countries participated in important discussions concerning Financial Protocol, Privileges & Immunities, Procurement and Intellectual Property Rights, and the Operations & Access models. Each of these working groups are preparing documentation that will form the basis of the Treaty and ultimately the structure of the organisation that will guide the SKA into an IGO. A fourth Treaty meeting will be held from 27-29 September to finalise the negotiation process.  To read more about the negotiations visit the SKA Organisation website.​

 

SKA-IGO-3-21-2.jpg

Representatives from the SKA member countries during SKA IGO negotiations at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome

 
  
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CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science is Recruiting

27 April 2016


There is a position available as the Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) in Sydney, Australia. The role is for a duration of 3 years and applications close 11.59pm AEST, 19 May 2016. For more information and to apply online please visit the CSIRO jobs page

 

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SKA Identified as Landmark Project by the European Commission

21 April 2016

The SKA has been identified as a Landmark Project by the European Commission in its recently published research infrastructure Roadmap 2016. The Roadmap is part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). ESFRI identifies research facilities of pan-European importance that are necessary to strengthen scientific excellence and competitiveness in the EU.

“Our status as an ESFRI Landmark Project recognises the SKA as a major research infrastructure for Europe. Delivering the world’s largest radio telescope requires international collaboration at European and indeed global level, and we look forward to further European participation in the SKA.” said Prof Philip Diamond, SKA Organisation Director-General. Read more about the announcement at the SKA website.

 

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Second Annual OzSKA Conference held in Perth 

14 April 2016

Australian Astronomers met on 8 April for the second annual OzSKA meeting to discuss developments in the SKA The focus was not only on astronomy, but also technological development and the evolution of the SKA Organisation itself. Presentations on SKA-related science were given by many prominent radio astronomers. Policy and engineering updates were also provided by SKA Project Director David Luchetti and CSIRO’s Deputy of Astronomy and Space Science Sarah Pearce respectively. OzSKA was established last year to foster collaboration between Australian scientists who are, or would like to be, involved in the SKA. Driving this is the aim to build a community of knowledgeable scientists ready to make use of the SKA once it is constructed. Read more about the 2016 event at the ANTF and CAASTRO websites.  ​

SAP_SKALA_IMAGE06_PREVIEW.jpg


Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions and
AADC Consortium

  
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Parkes radio telescope to become 'SKA Pathfinder'

8 April 2016

CSIROs-Parkes-radio-telescope_small.jpg

CSIRO’s iconic Parkes radio telescope has been granted the status of ‘SKA pathfinder’.. The status was granted by the Square Kilometre Array Organisation (SKAO) on the basis of its role in testing innovative new receiver systems. The Parkes telescope will be fitted with phased array feed (PAF) receivers similar to those designed and commissioned for CSIRO’s ASKAP telescope. The announcement welcomes Parkes into a group of  world-leading SKA pathfinders where it will play a key role in the technological development of the SKA. Read more at the ATNF website.

 

                                                                                               CSIRO's Parkes telescope. Credit: Wayne Englund          

 

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More updates: January - March 2016

Astrofest Brings the Sky down to Earth

22 March 2016

Perth’s annual astronomy festival, Astrofest, was held on 12 March. A strong crowd of over 5,000 people attended to celebrate everything space and astronomy. The public was delighted by views of the night sky, interesting talks and interactive astronomy displays. The SKA was featured heavily at the event with both precursors, the MWA and CSIRO’s ASKAP, having their own displays. Read more about the event at the ICRAR website.

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The ASKAP and MWA displays at Astrofest. Credit: Astronomy WA Astrofest

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SKA Science Circus tours the Karoo

18 March 2016

GWalker3.1.jpg

Australian Science Communicator Dr Graham Walker, supported by the Australian High Commission in South Africa, has recently toured the Karoo SKA region in South Africa. The purpose of the visit was to teach kids about the amazing science and careers associated with the SKA. The Science Circus Africa tour demonstrated how the SKA dishes collect waves using lasers and even ping pong balls, the effect of having multiple dishes in multiple countries, and the underlying science such as spectroscopy, waves, reflection, and the electromagnetic spectrum.

The project was run with the help of a team from the SKA South Africa Office and the Cape Town Science Centre. Through Dr Walker's training, the show will now become a permanent fixture at the Cape Town Science Centre. Read more at the Science Circus Africa website 

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18 March 2016 CIIC-partners-Woodside-Curtin-Cisco2-613x420.jpg

Born out of collaboration on the SKA, the Cisco Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Centre in WA is already kicking goals. The Innovation Centre successfully trialed a new 100Gb/s data link between the MWA and Curtin University Campus in Perth. The data sent from the MWA at the future SKA site, was found to arrive in exactly the same condition in Perth. This creates flexibility for the location of the SKA’s data processing centre. Read the official press release here. ​

  
(L-R): Woodside Senior Vice President, Strategy, Science and  Technology, Shaun Gregory; Curtin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry; and Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Security and Trust Officer, John Stewart, at the Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre​.
    
 
 
 
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Chair of ICRAR Board Awarded Honorary Doctorate

17 March 2016

Congratulations to passionate radio astronomy and marine science leader Dr Bernard Bowen who has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by The University of Western Australia. The founding chair of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) was presented with the degree in recognition of his outstanding contribution to science in Western Australia following a long and distinguished career spanning more than half a century. Read more about Dr Bowen and his work within the sciences on the ICRAR website.

 


 

  

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SKA Office in Manchester is Recruiting

17 March 2016

There is a position available for the role of Head of Procurement in the SKA Office in Manchester.  Applications close April 15. For more information visit the SKA website current vacancies page. To apply email: jobs@skatelescope.org  

 

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Australian SKA Precursor Telescopes to Aid Gravitational Waves Research

8 March 2016

Following the breakthrough announcement of the detection of Gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), Australian researchers and telescopes have a huge role to play in future observations. The SKA precursor, MWA, was the first radio telescope in the world to respond to the call from LIGO to hunt down the source of the unconfirmed gravity wave detection. The wide field of view of the MWA and ASKAP telescopes is crucial as the position of the source of a gravitational wave is not well known. Read more at the ATNF and ICRAR websites.

 

ASKAP_MWA.jpg 

The ASKAP and MWA telescopes. ​Image credits:
ASKAP  (Alex Cherney), MWA (Pete Wheeler).​

 
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SKA Project Awarded €5M by EU’s Horizon 2020

23 February 2016

Infrastructure-SKA.pngThe SKA project has been awarded €5M from the European Union’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020. This funding adds to the 150M currently being invested globally in the project’s pre-construction phase and will aid the design of infrastructure across the two sites in Australia and South Africa. See the press release at the SKA organisation website here.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
ASKAP antennas and road network (credit: CSIRO).
 
  

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Hidden Galaxies Discovered Behind Milky Way

17 February 2016

ICRAR Galaxy image.jpgAn international group of astronomers lead by International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research’s (ICRAR) Professor Lister Staveley-Smith has discovered previously unknown galaxies hidden behind the Milky Way. At a short distance of 250 million light years from Earth, they were just now able to be mapped with novel radio astronomy techniques using the CSIRO Parkes telescope.  Watch this video explaining the discovery and read more about it on the ICRAR, ABC, ScienceAlert and SMH websites.

 

   

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ASKAP Solar Farm Powering Forward

17 February 2016

CSIRO’s solar power station for their Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope situated at Australia’s SKA site has made enormous progress throughout the past few months. The installation of some 5000 photovoltaic panels is well and truly underway, with a battery set to be the largest of its type yet in Australia being designed to contain the vast amount of power generated. Read more at the ASKAP website here.


       ASKAP solar field1.jpg
         The construction of solar panels at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO). Credit: CSIRO
 

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More updates: October - December 2015

Australia announces $293.7 million in SKA funding


On Monday 7 December 2015, the Australian Government took an important step towards hosting the SKA when the Prime Minister announced a provisional funding allocation for the project as part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda.

As part of the announcement, $293.7 million over 10 years was set aside to meet Australia’s initial commitment to the SKA. More...

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Funding boost for SKA precursor telescope

2 November 2015

Scientists and Parliamentary Secretary Karen Andrews at the MWA

Congratulations to the Murchison Widefield Array for being awarded a $1 million Australian Research Council grant. The grant will be used to expand the number of MWA tiles from 128 to 256, quadrupling the telescope's capabilities.

Read more about the recent funding announcement on the ABC News website.

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India joins SKA Organisation

6 October 2015

The Indian Government has signed the SKA Membership Agreement. The agreement takes India from Associate Member to Member of the SKA Organisation. SKA Director General Professor Phil Diamond and Indian Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy Dr R. K. Sinha signed documents on Monday 5 October in Mumbai, India.

Read more about India's membership at the SKA Organisation website.

  
  
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More updates: July - September 2015

WA Premier Barnett visits SKA site

30 September 2015

2015-09-30 Premier_MRO_Visit_thumb.jpgEarlier this week, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett joined CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Chief Lewis Ball and ICRAR directors Carole Jackson and Lister Staveley-Smith on a visit to the future home of the SKA in WA’s Mid West.

In his first visit to the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, in the state's central Mid-West Region, the Premier toured the MRO Control Building, ASKAP antennas, and MWA equipment.

Read more about the Premier's visit at The West Australian newspaper.

  

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New: Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array

17 September 2015

The SKA Organisation has announced the publication of Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array. The publication describes the enormously broad science case for the SKA telescope. Totalling over 2000 pages long, this two-volume book, comprises 135 chapters written by 1,213 contributors from 31 nations.

Australian and New Zealand astronomers have made a huge contribution to this publication, co-authoring 53 of the 135 chapters

“The new SKA Science Book is significant for the breadth of science it covers and the global nature of its contributions. The SKA will push into new and emerging areas of astrophysics, and the book highlights many areas that can only be addressed through high-sensitivity radio astronomy. Australia’s astrophysicists can feel incredibly proud of their involvement in this ambitious set of goals. With so many young astronomers amongst them, Australian astronomy certainly has a bright future.”

Prof Carole Jackson, ICRAR-Curtin University acting Science Director and Australia’s SKA Science Advisory Committee Chair.

“The new SKA Science Book is a great illustration of the excellent science that will be done by SKA. It’s very satisfying to have so many Australian astronomers as authors, and to see the cutting-edge science we expect from the innovative SKA1-Low instrument in Western Australia.”

Dr Sarah Pearce, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Deputy Director, and Australia’s science representative on the SKA Board.

More details are available in the international SKA media release.

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Australia-China stars shine brightly at ACAMAR launch

15 September 2015

Nobel Laureate and ANU Professor of Physics Brian Schmidt  has received a rock star-like welcome in China, presenting to packed university auditoriums and launching the latest Australia-China astronomy collaboration. Following a series of highly successful lectures, Professor Schmidt officially launched the Australia-ChinA ConsortiuM for Astrophysical Research (ACAMAR) on 12 September 2015. Named after a bright star visible from both China and Australia, ACAMAR will see China and Australia further cooperate in areas of astronomy including infrastructure and human capital development.

Read more about Professor Schmidt's China visit.

 ACAMARSigning.jpg
Australian and Chinese representatives sign documents at the launch of ACAMAR. 

 

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Minister Ian Macfarlane: Path to prosperity lies in big ideas

3 September 2015ian-macfarlane.jpg

The Australian Government is boosting our nation's innovation and helping to transform great Australian ideas into great Australian products and services. This includes inventions such as the CSIRO-developed Phased Array Feed receiver - designed for the ASKAP telescope, and now being produced for overseas telescopes. Read Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane's op-ed at The Australian.

 

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West Australian-led innovation could save SKA millions

3 September 2015

2015-09-03_SADT_Tests.jpgA WA-led innovation has overcome a limitation in above-ground fibre-optic cabling that could save the SKA project millions in costs. University of Western Australia researchers Sascha Schediwy and David Gozzard, tested a new frequency synchronisation system developed at UWA in South Africa in June. The technology was developed as part of the international Signal and Data Transport (SaDT) consortium. This consortium is in charge of developing the signal and data network for the international SKA Project. Read more at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research website.

 

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Neutron star jets and the slow death of the Universe

13 August 2015Neutron jets.png

The Perth-based International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) has been making headlines in the lead up to the International Astronomy Union General Assembly in Honolulu with two incredible discoveries.

An international team of scientists have discovered super-dense neutron stars which shoot powerful jets of material into space - a feat previously thought to be exclusive to black holes. On a darker tack, ICRAR has used 7 of the world’s most powerful telescopes to look into the future and forecast the impending death of the Universe.  Find out more about our slow demise here.

 

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SKA's the limit for young Australians with their sights on science

22 July 2015

N6blgNx1In[1].jpgA thought provoking piece from Karen Andrews, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Science.

Mrs Andrews discusses the importance of ‘moon shot thinking’. She specifically points to the invention of Wi-Fi, the mind boggling processing power required of SKA supercomputers, and the value to Australian industry of inspiring the next generation of science, technology, engineering and maths graduates. More at The Guardian.

 

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Radio quiet for the most powerful telescope in history

20 July 2015

A very interesting piece from the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Emily Wilson. Ms Wilson was one of a handful of journalists invited to tour the Australian SKA site. Other invited guests included: experts in the field of radio-astronomy; WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken; and Karen Andrews, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Science.

Ms Wilson's article touches on radio quiet in the shire of Murchison and what that means if you’re a radio-astronomer studying radio waves from the dawn of the universe. Supercomputers, data analysis and the awesome complexities of building the SKA - a mega-science project with 10 other countries - are also discussed.  More at the Guardian. 

 

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Visit to Australia's SKA site coincides with the commencement of treaty negotiations

17 July 2015

Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Science, Karen Andrews, paid a visit to Australia's SKA site this week. Mrs Andrews was joined by WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken, a selection of Australia’s top astronomers, government officials, and media representatives. The party visited the ASKAP and MWA telescopes located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, as well as support buildings and infrastructure.

“This amazing world class observatory with its two precursor radio telescopes demonstrates that Australia is ready and able to host this exciting telescope project,” Mrs Andrews said.

The visit coincided with the Australian Government indicating recent meetings in Brussels had cleared the way for treaty talks to lay down the terms of the project.

“Treaty negotiations reflect a new chapter of engagement within the global project because they will solidify the rights and responsibilities of SKA member nations, paving the way for construction to begin in 2018,” Mrs. Andrews said.

Read the full media release on Parliamentary Secretary Andrews's homepage. Additional coverage at The Australian.

 
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Germany buys CSIRO's award-winning telescope technology

14 July 2015

CSIRO has sold advanced phased array feed (PAF) receiver technol­ogy developed for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) to the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. The institute operates a major observatory in Germany.

This novel technology increases a radio telescope’s field of view. With the technology, ASKAP is one the world's most advanced survey radio telescope.

Antony Schinckel, the project director of ASKAP said CSIRO has had a great deal of interest in using the phased array feed on other telescopes. For the ASKAP telescope, Antony and his team won the Manufacturing, Construction and Infrastructure category prize, as well as the overall prize in The Australian Innovation Challenge awards last year. More at The Australian.

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WA Premier applauds Australia's SKA precursor telescopes

13 July 2015

The world-class telescopes at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in WA's Mid West are producing outstanding scientific results. These successes are paving the way for Western Australia to co-host the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett said the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope had collected six petabytes of data (enough to fill more than one million DVDs) since starting operations in July 2013.

"This makes it one of the first astronomy facilities to enter the era of big data," Mr Barnett said. More

 

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Dishes - Dana Anaru - thumbnail.jpgThe Australian SKA Office and Australian radio astronomy community have celebrated NAIDOC week. NAIDOC week is a celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australia's SKA community has a productive partnership with the Wajarri Yamatji people. The Wajarri Yamatji are the traditional custodians of the land on which the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, the Australian SKA Pathfinder, and Murchison Widefield Array telescopes are situated.

On Tuesday 7 July, Secretary of the Department of Industry and Science Glenys Beauchamp launched the latest collaborative exhibition as part of NAIDOC week celebrations. The exhibition is entitled 'Balagardi Barnagardi', or, ‘Across to the other land’. This and previous exhibitions bring together Wajarri artists and SKA astronomers to create art at the junction of science and Indigenous culture.

Read more about the Balagardi Barnagardi exhibition (7-9 July in Canberra) here. You can also read Steven Tingay’s article on the Ilgarijiri exhibitions here.

 

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6 July 2015

CSIRO astronomers today announced the detection of signals from a distant ancient galaxy. The signals provide insight into galactic development and demonstrate the capability of Australia's ASKAP telescope.

Using just six of ASKAP's 36 dishes, astronomers were able to clearly observe distant galaxy PKS B12740-517. The observation ably demonstrates one of ASKAP's roles of detecting and cataloguing distant and as-yet unobserved astronomical objects.

 
 
 
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Australian SKA community farewells retiring Dr Michelle Storey

2 July 2015 

  

MStorey-30062015.jpgAfter many years in the Australian SKA community, Michelle Storey has hung up her lanyard and entered a well-deserved retirement.

Michelle's contributions as Executive Officer within CSIRO have been instrumental to the establishment of the SKA in Australia and the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. Michelle's quiet but outstanding dedication to the SKA project was recognised when she recieved a Public Service Medal from the Governor-General as part of the 2012 Australia Day Honours.

Michelle will be missed, but her contributions to the future of the radio-astronomy community will last for many years to come.

 

 

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More updates: April - June 2015

The Australian SKA Office has a new Twitter account!

9 June 2015

SKA_Twitter.pngThe Australian Square Kilometre Array Twitter page aims to provide you with the latest information on the SKA project and its Australian stakeholders. Through it you can engage with international partners, astronomers, researchers, industry members, and the general public in an online conversation about this transformational project.

For more information, read our social media disclaimer.

SKA_Australia

 

 


New science, ancient land: the SKA inspires new Indigenous art

2 June 2015

For several years, artists from the Art CentreYamaji Art Centre in Geraldton, WA, have been creating artworks that fuse traditional stories of the night sky with the cutting edge science of the SKA. This is made possible by the special relationship that has developed between the artists and SKA scientists.

Inspired by interactions with the scientists and their telescopes, the artists produced an impressive range of paintings. The project has been captured in a short video showcasing some of the artworks and the Indigenous stories that inspired them. The stories are narrated by some of the Yamaji artists themselves.

Find more information here.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Farewell to Professor Brian Boyle


The Australian SKA Office is sad to say goodbye to Professor Brian Boyle who has recently finished up as Australian SKA Project Director. Professor Brian will now take up a role at the University of New South Wales. 

Brian has made a significant contribution to the SKA over many years and has been a key figure in Australia’s astronomy community for even longer. Brian’s vision, leadership and personal drive was instrumental in bringing the Australian and Western Australian governments into the project.  His ability to inspire, strategise and lead earned him an Australian Public Service Medal.

Find out more about Brian and his contribution to astronomy and the SKA Project.

 


19 May 2015
 
The SKA Organisation has released the latest bulletin. The bulletin offers an overview of the project, its system engineering, architecture, science, and more.
 
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SKA permanent headquarters selected

30 April 2015

 

After thoughtful consideration, SKA Members have selected the current headquarters site at Jodrell Bank, near Manchester UK, to be the permanent location of the SKA Organisation's international headquarters.

A competitive proposal was also submitted by Italy. The proposal was backed by strong support from the Italian government and research institutions, which are of key value to the project.

The international SKA Organisation and the UK government will soon engage in negotiations to develop a suitable hosting agreement. This decision is an important development for the SKA project. Inter-governmental negotiations to establish an SKA Treaty will soon commence. Funding arrangements for the construction of Phase 1 to begin in 2018 will also soon be underway. Read the full press release from the SKA Organisation.​

SKAHQ.jpgArtist’s impression of the future SKA headquartersCredit: University of Manchester.    

 

 

 

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Amazon continues to support SKA innovation

29 April 2015

Amazon Web Services has teamed up with the SKA Organisation to offer the AstroCompute in the Cloud grant programme. The programme is aimed at encouraging the development of innovative tools and techniques for processing, storing and analysing the vast amounts of data expected from the SKA.

This programme builds on previous successful collaborations between Amazon and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research on theSkyNet, and with CSIRO on the pulsar catalogue and ASKAP data archives.

New solutions in cloud processing, data analysis and visualisation will likely generate innovations applicable to other industries. The development of pharmaceutical drugs, weather forecasting, and the designing and engineering of smarter infrastructure will all likely be effected.

For more details on this collaboration, refer to the SKAO  press release.

  

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Murchison Widefield Array prepares for big data challenges

22 April 2015

Bigdata.pngThe SKA is at the forefront of big data challenges, developing solutions with broad commercial and research applications.

After approximately 18 months of operation, the Murchison Widefield Array - an SKA precursor telescope - has collected over 4 petabytes of data. This is enough data to fill 8,000,000 average computer hard drives.

Find out how the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth is archiving these massive data sets and preparing for future challenges from Science WA.
                                                                                                            
The MWA | Credit: Murchison Widefield Array   

 

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Initial ASKAP results are in!

10 April 2015

AskapElevated.jpgThree early scientific results from the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope were unveiled at the OzSKA conference yesterday. All results indicated promising outcomes for future ASKAP projects.

CSIRO teams have identified what appear to be dark clouds of hydrogen gas associated with a galaxy; observed an unusually inactive pulsar; and detected a five-billion-year-old radio signal from a distant galaxy.

These results demonstrate ASKAP’s great capabilities and the quality work done by CSIRO researchers.

Find out more from CSIRO.
ASKAP antennas | Credit: CSIRO      
 
 
 
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conference explores radio astronomy in the next decadeOzSKA conference explores radio astronomy in the next decade

8 April 2015

RobertBraun.jpgHeld at the University of Melbourne over 8-10 April, OzSKA will explore radio astronomy and the SKA. The SKA will herald a new era in radio astronomy. The project will increase astronomical knowledge, provide new opportunities for scientists, and impact industry through the development of new technologies. The SKA will also raise the profile of science in the wider community, thus benefiting science education.

Opening speakers include David Luchetti from the Australian SKA Office, and Dr Robert Braun, Science Director of the international SKA Organisation. Dr Robert Braun is pictured here talking about “Science with the SKA”.

For a full list of speakers or more information, refer to the CAASTRO website.

 
 
 
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SKA buzz at Australia's largest astronomy festival

1 April 2015 

Astrofest.jpgScience shows, telescopes, astrophotography displays, and other attractions entertained over 4,500 visitors on the weekend at Astrofest. The event is Australia’s largest annual astronomy festival.

Held at Curtin University, the festival featured plenty of SKA, including a project update from Prof Peter Quinn, Director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

Check out more information and photos from Astronomy WA.  

 

  A model of the MWA, SKA percursor telescope, featured at Astrofest.
  Credit: Astronomy WA Astrofest 2015

 
 
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More updates: January - March 2015

 

24 March 2015
 
 
The SKA Organisation has released the latest bulletin. The bulletin offers an overview of the project, its system engineering, architecture, science, and more.

 

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ASKAIC members collaborate to open Innovation Centre

20 March 2015

Cisco has just announced it will invest $US15 million over five years to open in Australia its eighth Internet of Everything Innovation Centre. The plan was sparked by ideas generated during meetings and discussions with the Australian Government’s Australasian SKA Industry Cluster (ASKAIC).

The new centre will be based in both Sydney and Perth. Big data research, prototyping innovative new concepts, and features and functionalities in the Internet of Everything (IoE) space will be the focus. The centre will provide dedicated space to demonstrate IoE in action. Open areas where Cisco experts, customers, start-ups, open communities, researchers, entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts can work on new ideas will also be provided. Partners so far include Sirca, Curtin University and Woodside Energy. 

Prof Steven Tingay of Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, discusses the linkages between SKA, technology, industry, and science: “Technology developed for the SKA will not only help us solve the great mysteries of science, but will also have benefits for business. SKA and its precursor projects are really motivating a lot of different people to come together and think about how we can use those opportunities more broadly. We see the Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, Australia as a good platform to extend our partnership with Cisco and to collaborate with other companies who are producing big data sets and struggling with the same sorts of things that we're struggling with as scientists."  More information from Cisco

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck Robbins, Cisco's senior vice president of worldwide operations

                                                                                   
 
 
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Update from Australian SKA Project Director

10 March 2015
 

Australian SKA Project Director Professor Brian Boyle attended the SKA Board and Members meetings in Manchester last week.

Read his Director’s Update for the latest developments in the international project or refer to the latest media release on the international SKA website.

 
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World's Largest Astronomy Lesson in WA

4 March 2015

If you needed any more proof that Australians love astronomy, over 1,000 people took part in the 'World's Largest Astronomy Lesson’ in Perth on the weekend. The effort smashes the previous Guinness World Record of 834.

Check out the photos below (thanks to John Goldsmith / CelestialVisions.com.au) and read more about it on ICRAR news.

 

 
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Businesses keen to harness SKA precursor technology 

Curtin.jpg27 February 2015

 

Professor Tingay, director of the Murchison Widefield Array, is excited about the technology used by the SKA precursor telescope to deal with large data sets. The technology has the potential to benefit many companies and business groups.

"A government investment into fundamental science can spin off into broader economic returns across a lot of different industries."                                                                                                               Image: Curtin University

 

Read more on ABC Mid West News.

 

 

 
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Yamaji and South African artists share their skies...

26 February 2015

 

Shared Sky is an art exhibition that sheds light on traditional Australian and South African imagery, stories and beliefs about the Universe, and constellations and stars. The exhibition was Recently launched in both Australia and South Africa.

 

ABC Open Mid West WA caught up with some of the Yamaji artists to document their experience of creating artwork inspired by their traditions and the SKA. Check out the video below and this Flickr photo collection.

 


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Astronomer's profile: Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith, CSIRO

 24 February 2015

​​

Dr Harvey-Smith is one of the key astronomers working on the Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope at CSIRO's Astronomy and Space Science division. Listen to her talk about why she gets excited looking at stars and galaxies, and how she inspires others to share her passion!

 
 
"We don't know what 96% of the universe is made of."
 
 
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Mk II PAF provides significant performance improvement for ASKAP

19 February 2015
 

MkII.jpgThe latest test results of the second generation (Mk II) phased-array feed (PAF) receiver used at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory have confirmed a significant improvement. The Mk II PAFs have twice the sensitivity and four times the survey speed of the first generation receiver.

The Mk II PAF design builds on lessons learnt in the design, development, construction, and commissioning of the Mk I PAF system.

Congratulations to the ASKAP team! Find out more on the CSIRO media release.

 
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Unlocking the mystery of the first billion years of the universe

19 February 2015

 

Universe.jpgProf Steven Tingay has written a great article on The Conversation about the work of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope - an SKA precursor telescope. The MWA is beginning to uncover the first billion years of the Universe’s life. The low frequency SKA telescope will be approximately 100 times bigger than the MWA and promises many more discoveries.

 

“The great news for Australia is that this much bigger SKA facility will be built on the same site as the MWA in Western Australia, learning from our solid and hard won experience, placing Australian science and engineering
on page one of the next exciting multi-decade chapter in the unfolding story
of cosmic discovery.”

 

Read the full article on The Conversation.

 
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Prof McClure-Griffiths discusses SKA at AAAS Meeting

19 February 2015

Australian-based astrophysicist Prof Naomi McClure-Griffiths joined a host of high-profile speakers at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The society is the world's largest and most prestigious general scientific society. They are also the publisher of the scientific journal Science.

The SKA project was the focus of one of the sessions. During this session Prof McClure-Griffiths discussed the Australian SKA Pathfinder radio telescope and the data it is expected to harness through its revolutionary wide-field receiver technology.

Other speakers included Prof Phil Diamond (SKA Director General), Nadeli Pandor (South African Minister of Science and Technology), Dr Bernie Fanaroff (SKA South Africa Project Director) and Anthony J. Beasley (Director of National Radio Astronomy Observatory).

For a full list of presenters and more topics discussed, refer to the 2015 AAAS Meeting website.

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Shared Sky Exhibition opens in South Africa

SharedSky.jpg16 February 2015

The SKA’s indigenous art / astronomy exhibition Shared Sky was launched in South Africa today at the prestigious Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town. The exhibition was previously launched in Perth in September.

The exhibition brings together work by aboriginal and local artists from locations around the SKA sites in Australia and South Africa. The artists collaborate to produce an exhibition celebrating humanity’s ancient cultural wisdom. “Shared Sky connects ancient peoples who have been doing astronomy for millennia & today’s astronomers. It’s just the tools that have changed” said Simon Berry, Head of Policy Development  at the SKA Organisation.

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Tucana_widefield.jpg
New image of Tuscana constellation
3x larger than previous efforts

02 February 2015

The Australian SKA Pathfinder team have created a new image to demonstrate the rapid, widefield survey capability of the phased array feed receivers developed for the SKA precursor.

Three separate 12-hour observations were used to create this 150 square degree image. The image covers an area of the sky around 750 times the size of a full moon!

Refer to CSIRO's news article for more details.

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SKAO January Bulletin

January 2015
 

The SKA Organisation has released the latest bulletin. The bulletin offers an overview of the project, its system engineering, architecture, science, and more.

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Another step forward for the SKA engineering

29 January 2015
 

The preliminary design review of the low-frequency element of the SKA is now done! This was the fourth of 11 design reviews to take place, providing each consortium with feedback to help them progress to a final design for the SKA. Discover more about the SKA's design process and the consortia here.

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Preparing to map the Universe

27 January 2015

MappingtheUniverse.jpgIn a recently published series of papers, a team of scientists from around the world have set out their plans for putting together the biggest map of the Universe ever made.

The papers are part of a larger series of some 130 papers to be released as a unique science book (Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array) in summer 2015 by the SKA Organisation. The collection will cover science areas the SKA is expected to contribute to. These areas include pulsars, cosmic magnetism, the early stages of the Universe, and the search for life in the Universe. Of course, the SKA will also deliver transformational
science that we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

Find out more about how the SKA will map the cosmos on the SKA Organisation website.

 

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SKAO November - December Bulletin

6 January 2015

 

 
The SKA Organisation has released the latest bulletin. The bulletin offers an overview of the project, its system engineering, architecture, science, and more.

 

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