First country has approved participation in constructing the largest telescope the world has ever known

Subject: The first steps in the development of the largest radio telescope in the world - Comments and suggestions are welcome! Don't hesitate and leave a comment on our comment section down below the article!

By Universal-Sci

An artist’s impression of the SKA LFAA-instrument. The telescope will be made up of 130.000 antennas and will be spread out over 512 fields. - Image Credit: Astron / HDR tune by Universal-Sci - (Click on image to enlarge)

The Dutch parliament has been the first to formally confirm participation in the assembly of the largest radio telescope the world has has ever known. The massive telescope might give us another opportunity to find out if we are alone in the universe!

We are talking about the ratification of a treaty that has been written by the Square Kilometer Array Observatory, also known as SKA. (An intergovernmental organisation in charge of building the telescope). the Netherlands is the first country to officially complete the ratification proces to the delight of Professor Phillip Diamond (director- general of the SKA). It is anticipated that many other countries will follow soon.

A huge undertaking

In addition to the Netherlands the treaty has been signed (but not yet ratified) by The United Kingdom, South-Africa, Australia, Italy, Portugal and China.

With use of the incredible amount of antennas it is expected that the Square Kilometer Array will be able to generate an approximate (whopping) 1.5 petabytes of data PER SECOND.

To put this in perspective professor Peter Quinn, the director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research stated in an interview that the telescope will generate the same amount of data in a single day as the entire planet does in a year. They estimated that there will be more data streaming inside the telescope network than through the entire internet in the year 2020.

the Netherlands will be investing approximately 30 million euros into the project. Their goal is to generate jobs and to strengthen their leading position in the world of science.

This is an artist’s impression of one of the Australian antenna fields (Low Frequency Aperture Array) - Image Credits: Astron / HDR tune by Universal-Sci - (Click on image to enlarge)

Thousands upon thousands of antennas and hundreds of dishes

The building sites for the SKA will be in Australia as well as in South-Africa. In total there will be a set of 130,000 antennas and 200 dishes. The dishes will be constructed in South-Africa while the antennas will be constructed in Australia (spread over approximately 512 antenna sites). It is with those antennas that the SKA will be able to produce the before mentioned massive amounts of data.

Technological innovation

Aside from the scientific impact that this radio telescope is going to have, it is already impacting technological innovation. The huge amount of data that has to be transported and processed asks for intelligent software and computer architectures. As with many other scientific projects, spin of technologies that can be used in other fields of science and eventually every in day life are expected.

So what is the purpose of all of this?

What goals are astronomers trying to reach with this two billion dollar telescope? One of the most eye-catching goals is to find out if we are alone in this universe. But the telescope is also designed to further tests the laws of Einsteins general theory of relativity in extreme circumstances. In addition to that, astronomers hope to be able to research the early phases of the universe in more detail than previously possible, study the mysterious fast radio burst that have stumped astronomers for some time now and map magnetic fields. The telescope will also be able to study planets orbiting nearby stars in greater detail than ever before, giving us yet another opportunity to find out whether or not we are alone in the universe!


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