October 5, 2012
Australia Unveils New $155 Million ASKAP Telescope
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Australia has unveiled a new $155 million telescope that could start to capture radio images as soon as today.
The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is one of the world's fastest telescopes and sits in Australia's outback.
ASKAP has 36 antennas with a diameter of 40 feet each and forms part of the world's biggest radio telescope projects.
The telescope is located at the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory, 196 miles northeast of Geraldton in the Western Australian desert.
Dr. John O'Sullivan, from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), told BBC that the telescope is a "very powerful instrument to start to get a look [at] the origins of galaxies“¦ It is the beginning of a great new period, I think."
The telescope's remote location offers an area with very little interference from man-made radio signals.
ASKAP will help scientists look for black holes in the universe, which are mysterious, hard to observe objects.
The new telescope is part of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) that is set to begin construction sometime in 2016.
SKA will become the world's biggest radio telescope project based in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. This project will consist of thousands of radio-wave antennas that will all link together by high bandwidth optical fiber.
The antennas will work together as a single instrument with a collecting area approximating one square kilometer, or .38 square miles.
CSIRO built the telescope. The organization announced back in August that a new supercomputer would be installed at iVEC's Pawsey Centre in Perth, Western Australia to help support the data being carried out using ASKAP.
"I'm delighted that years of hard work, by so many people in so many organizations, has paid off," the Australia—New Zealand SKA Project Director, Dr. Brian Boyle, who is also from CSIRO, said in a statement. "A dual SKA site will ensure that the expertise brought to the international project is truly capitalized on. Concentrating radio-wave antennas at the superbly radio quiet MRO will maximize our scientific return. We look forward to further details as they evolve."