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  • richardmitnick 5:35 pm on November 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    From SKA: “Kenya, 8 African states plan US $1.9 billion telescope “ 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    November 05, 2014
    No Writer Credit

    Nine African countries including Kenya have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in radio astronomy research.

    two
    Kenya’s Longonot Earth station: The scientists also discussed how Kenya can participate in the construction and use of the station to co-host the largest radio telescope in the world.

    Delegates attending a two day Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Senior Officials meeting (SOM) in Nairobi recently arrived at a consensus to formalize their engagement through a Memorandum of Understanding.

    The partner countries represented in the meeting include: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Mauritius, Ghana, Madagascar, Zambia, Botswana and host Kenya.

    The meeting attended by policy makers and space scientists discussed how Kenya can participate in the construction and use of the Longonot earth station to co-host the largest radio telescope in the world. The SKA project is to be implemented in three phases and is expected to commence in 2016 and be completed by 2024. The cost of the construction of the telescope is estimated to be about 1.5billion Euros (Kshs 170 billion or US $ 1.9 billion).

    The draft MOU is expected to be finalized and ratified by the member countries during forthcoming SKA meetings. The meeting also discussed the SKA Africa Readiness Strategy and joint implementation plan and cost estimates for partner states in hosting the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) and SKA dishes.

    The meetings objective was to consolidate Africa’s support and strategize on how best to make maximum use of this opportunity to lead in global science and position Kenya as a regional center for Basic Space Science.

    During the official opening of the meeting, Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi noted that this partnership has effectively enhanced awareness around the requirements for hosting radio astronomy instrumentation and the associated benefits that could be derived in making such commitments. He noted that the SKA is expected to bring notable benefits and large capital investments including new job opportunities, increased business opportunity for local industries during and after the construction.

    Prof. Kaimenyi also said that, the Government has created and is implementing an Science Technology and Innovation (ST&I) policy framework to support the country’s Vision 2030 by devoting resources to scientific research, technical capabilities of the workforce, and in raising the quality of teaching science and technology in learning institutions. He informed the meeting that the Science Technology and Innovation Act of 2013 provides for allocation of at least 2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for research and development (R&D). He added that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is in the process of establishing a National Research Fund to realize the 2 percent provision.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 8:15 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From SKA via Contributoria: “Is there life out there? How the world’s largest telescope could tell us everything.” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    From Contributoria

    cont

    October 2014
    Katiem

    It’s rare to meet someone who claims to have the best job in the world but the architect of what will become the largest scientific instrument on the planet believes he has it. Tim Cornwell is part of the team, based at Jodrell Bank in the UK, who are building the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a series of linked radio dishes that collectively will create the biggest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world. Once completed it will have a total collecting area of over 1 million square meters and will be so sensitive that it would be able to detect an airport radar signal on a planet tens of light years away. Cornwell, who is lead architect on the telescope, has spent his career working in the field and his passion for radio astronomy is clear, “The thrill of building radio telescopes and seeing things people have never seen before is just amazing” he says. The SKA will be built across two sites, in Australia and South Africa, areas deliberately chosen for their ‘radio quietness’, where the lack of population means a corresponding lack of noise and therefore lower risk of interference from radio devices.

    teles

    For non-scientists radio astronomy may not immediately spark excitement but the aims of the SKA are relevant to everyone. Using the SKA scientists will address some of the greatest unanswered questions of our time, including, how do galaxies form? What is dark energy? Was [Albert] Einstein right about gravity? And perhaps most alluring, are we alone in the Universe? As SKA project scientist Tyler Bourke puts it, “We will have the sensitivity and the view of the sky to detect leakage equivalent to normal TV signals or radio stations from other planets up to a significant distance. It comes to the point where we should be able to hear something.” In that typical understated fashion common to scientists Bourke goes on to say that if the telescope doesn’t pick up anything then “it causes us some problems”, in effect if the SKA doesn’t hear anything we would know that it’s highly likely we are the only complex lifeform in the Universe. Of course looked at the other way, as suggested on their website “the detection of any extraterrestrial signals would forever change the perception of humanity in the Universe.”

    Given the magnitude of the scientific questions it will seek to tackle, by the time it’s switched on the SKA will likely be as much of a household name as the Large Hadron Collider. Before then though there is significant work to be done.

    Although the SKA headquarters are at Jodrell Bank in the UK, the project itself has 11 participating member countries and coordinating input and feedback from all participants is clearly a mammoth task. The first phase of the project is to finalise the detail of the design of the telescope, this also has to consider questions such as how they will manage, move and process the huge amount of data a telescope of this size will generate. Processing the data will be in itself a massively complex task and as part of this initial design phase, the team has been talking to processor manufacturers like Intel and Nvidia about what may be possible. They’re also in discussions with Amazon about the possibility of using the Amazon cloud to do their processing. Whatever the final solution Tim Cornwell provided some context for the size of the task they face, “We have to go up a huge amount in processing scale, the fastest telescope in the world at the moment is LOFAR and we’re going to go about a 1000 times faster than that.” It has also been described as having the processing power of about one hundred million PCs. The sheer volume of data that will be created by the telescope will mean it will be impossible for them to keep it all. Cornwell explained how they will handle the data, “We’ll process it into science products, like images of the sky, and then we’ll throw away the raw data. If you didn’t do it this way it’d cost hundreds of millions of Euros to run it every year.”

    Another logistical challenge is how they will power the SKA. An instrument of this size will require significant power to operate and in order to extract and process the data. And while a major factor as to why the selected sites were chosen was due to their remote, quiet location, in Australia, this remoteness brings with it the challenge of being off grid.

    Once the final design in agreed, in 2018, construction will begin, this will take place in two phases, but by 2020 they will be able to begin some initial work, what they refer to as “early science”. By 2024 the telescope should be completed.

    Even at this relatively early stage in the life of the SKA scientists from around the world are excited about the possibilities and are currently submitting their ideas and plans for the experiments they’d like to carry out using it. And although the big high-level questions have been set out, in common with many large-scale exploration projects, it’s likely that it will discover something that hadn’t even been considered. When you look at it that way it’s easy to understand why this team of passionate scientists and radio astronomers talk about having the best jobs in the world.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 5:29 pm on October 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    From SKA: “Australian Square Kilometre Array telescope takes shape in WA outback” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    13 Oct 2014
    Gian De Poloni

    A project to build one of the world’s most powerful radio astronomy telescopes is taking shape in Western Australia’s outback.

    The $160 million Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder [ASKAP] is being built in a radio quiet area of WA’s Murchison region, about a four-hour drive from the port city of Geraldton.

    three
    Photo: Three ASKAP telescopes are trained towards the sky east of Geraldton. (Alex Cherney)

    The project has seen the installation of 36 huge antenna dishes on Boolardy Station, which will eventually work together to survey large areas of sky to help scientists understand how galaxies have formed and evolved.

    CSIRO scientist Lisa Harvey-Smith said although only six of the dishes were active, the images that had been taken so far were remarkable.

    “The latest picture we’ve taken has almost 2000 galaxies in it, which is incredible,” she said.

    “It’s kind of a wide field image of the sky.

    “Once we’ve got 36 telescopes, we’ll be able to do a huge survey of the entire night’s sky and see millions of new galaxies, black holes and things in the very distant universe that no one’s ever seen before.”

    She said the question of what exactly the telescope will be able to see in distant space was a complete mystery.

    “The discovery potential of this telescope is quite amazing,” she said.

    “Even now, we’ve been able to look at galaxies that are actually older than our Earth – which is a pretty incredible thing – and look into the distant universe to search for galaxies that were actually around billions of years ago and may not exist anymore.”

    Dr Harvey-Smith said the giant dishes were picking up radio waves being emitted from objects in space.

    “Our eyes can’t see radio waves, so the data that we get is just boring ones and zeros, but we actually use clever computer algorithms and a super computer that’s based in Perth to make the images into real optical type images that we can see,” she said.

    Telescope will view area 200 time size of moon

    Project director Antony Schinckel said images produced so far were stunning.

    “The thing about ASKAP is it’s a completely new type of telescope – it’s never been built before – so a lot of this very early work is simply understanding exactly how to use it,” he said.

    “Many of our staff said ‘look, it’s not worth trying to do much with just the six dishes because we won’t be able to see much’, but they’ve been completely shown to be wrong.

    “Trying to predict ahead to what we’re going to see with 36 at the full capability is really hard but we’ll be able to very quickly map really big areas of the sky and by really big, I mean in a single snapshot we’ll be able to see an area around about 200 times the size of the full moon.

    “There are still huge holes in our knowledge of how our universe evolved, where galaxies come from, how planets form and we expect ASKAP will be able to really help us answer a lot of that.”

    Dr Schinckel estimated it would cost about $10 million a year to keep the project going.

    “We’ve had good support from the Government over the last few years and we believe the Government does see the positive impacts of these sorts of projects,” he said.

    “There’s the pure science side, there’s the very tight international collaboration aspect, there’s the technology spin off, there’s training of engineers and scientists who may or may not stay on in astronomy but may go on to work in other fields.”

    ASKAP is viewed as a precursor to the future $1.9 billion Square Kilometre Array, which will be built in both the Murchison and South Africa in 2018, with input in design and funding coming from 11 countries.

    The SKA is expected to be the largest and most capable radio telescope.

    what
    Photo: This wide shot image taken from the ASKAP telescope over 12 hours shows distant galaxies. (Supplied: CSIRO)

    telescope
    ASKAP telescope image Photo: This wide shot image taken from the ASKAP telescope over 12 hours shows distant galaxies. (Supplied: CSIRO)

    Murchison ideal location for project

    Dr Harvey-Smith said the isolation of the Murchison region made it the perfect place for the project.

    “If you could imagine trying to listen for a mouse under your floorboards hearing tiny scratching noises, you don’t want to be playing the radio very loudly in the background,” she said.

    “It’s the same type of thing with the radio telescopes.

    “We’re looking for tiny, tiny signals incredibly week from galaxies billions of light years away.
    Under a brilliant night sky, ASKAP telescopes are pointed to the night stars Photo: Raw data from the ASKAP telescopes totals about 100 terabytes per second. (Alex Cherney)

    “They’re so weak we have to amplify them millions of times with specialist electronic equipment.”

    Dr Schinckel said the communications infrastructure in place to support the telescope was unfathomable.

    “The raw data rate we get from the telescopes is about 100 terabytes per second,” he said.

    “To put that in context, that’s about the entire traffic of the internet all around the world in one second.

    “Luckily the super computers we have on site can very quickly reduce the data back to a more manageable volume of around about 10 gigabytes per second.

    “The sheer volume of that and the speed of which that raw data comes in is truly astounding.”

    Dr Harvey Smith said she could control the telescope from the comfort of her lounge room.

    “As one of the research scientists, I can access the telescope from Sydney – from my house, on my laptop,” she said.

    “We just send signals through the internet and tell the telescope what to do.

    “It’s pretty amazing that we can have a giant international scientific facility with very few people actually out there on the site.”

    It is hoped the entire network of dishes will be fully operational by March 2016.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 7:35 am on October 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    From SKA via VB News: “How big data is fueling a new age in space exploration” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    Untitled

    October 5, 2014
    Ilya Golubovich

    In 2018, a group of organizations from all of the world will begin construction of the largest radio telescope ever built, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

    scopes

    With one million square meters of collecting area and enough optical fiber to wrap around the Earth twice, this marvel of modern engineering will be sensitive enough to detect airport radar on a planet 50 light years away. SKA will also generate 700 terabytes of data every second, equivalent to roughly 35 times the data stored in the Library of Congress. At full capacity, the SKA’s aperture arrays are expected to produce 100 times more data than the entire Internet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that such a deluge of information creates a big data problem, perhaps the biggest we have ever encountered.

    Solving this big data problem for the space industry requires innovation in the data storage, processing, and access (or visualization) technologies, which, in turn, creates ample opportunities for startups and large data crunching companies to take advantage of.

    A few major factors will drive exponential growth in the amount of terabytes falling on us from the skies over the next couple of decades: the increasing speed of commercial satellite deployment, implementation of faster communication technology, and the onset of interplanetary missions.

    The Growing “Orbital Economy” and Deep Space Exploration

    The dwindling cost of launches and the democratization of the satellite market are going to result in an unprecedented growth of orbital activity. Based on announced plans by various companies and space programs, between 2,000 and 2,750 cube- and nano-sats will be launched by the end of this decade — the Goddard Space Flight Center lists 2,271 satellites currently in orbit. Most of the new spacecraft will have commercial applications, particularly in Earth observation. Earth observation means images and video, often multi-spectral or even 3D, which are some of the heaviest “packages” in terms of data units involved.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    A small portion of the Murchison Widefield Array, a SKA component

    Historically, the single largest barrier that has kept the space data floodgates closed was the ability to transmit the collected information back to Earth. Most current space missions use radio frequency to transfer data, which is a relatively slow approach. NASA’s typical deep space explorer would send back data on the order of megabytes per second, while earth orbiting spacecraft are typically doing so in gigabytes per second. In the future, however, the space industry is expected to start switching to new type of optical (or laser) communications that will significantly increase the download speed and mean a 1,000-multiple surge in the volume of data.

    SKA ASKAP
    SKA ASKAP

    In the last few years, both national space programs and private companies have made a number of big announcements regarding their plans for ambitious interplanetary missions: China is reportedly plotting a moon colony, SpaceX is well on track for a manned mission to Mars — especially given the latest contract award from NASA — and Planetary Resources is planning to prospect and mine near-earth asteroids for water and platinoid group metals by the end of this decade. (Disclosure: Planetary Resources is one of my portfolio companies.)

    Eric Anderson, the co-founder of Planetary Resources, estimates that the “planetographic” data available just in our own solar system dwarfs the amount of geographical data we have on Earth by three orders of magnitude.

    Data Storage and Management

    Amazon and NASA have recently launched the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) platform, a collaboration and analytical tool that combines state-of-the-art supercomputing, Earth system modeling, workflow management and NASA remote-sensing data. With NEX, users can explore and analyze large earth science data sets, run and share modeling algorithms, collaborate on new or existing projects, and exchange workflows and results within and among other science communities. For now, NEX works primarily with data sets for climate, vegetation, and Landsat global land survey. However the platform ultimately serves as a strong showcase for what cloud computing technologies can do for the space industry.

    In the meantime, we see a number of players testing new business models by bringing the concepts of sharing economy into the geo-business by mobilizing underused assets — satellite constellations, UAVs, and other aerial imaging platforms — and essentially creating a new revenue channel for data owners. The concepts of “virtual satellite constellation” and “geo-AppStore” are becoming more and more a reality. In the past year, we have seen a number of cloud-based platforms such as ArcGIS by Esri and CloudEO Store that bring together data providers, software developers, and service providers in an online marketplace where customers can search for geospatial products to fit their needs in safe SaaS-based environments. (Disclosure: CloudEO is one of my portfolio companies.)

    Even hardware innovators are recognizing the importance of opening up their platforms to greater collaboration. Silicon Valley based Planet Labs — which raised more than $60 million from groups like DFJ, OATV, and Yuri Milner — is promising to release its developer API (application-programming interface) by the end of this year.

    Visualization

    Visualization is the other important aspect of making geospatial data useful to the end customer. Whether you are a farmer looking to assess how soil moisture content affects vegetation levels across your fields or a government agency trying to identify deforestation patterns and illegal logging operations, the way data is analyzed and presented can be partial to the end result.

    inter
    SKA Interferometer

    Spanish startup CartoDB recently offered a unique approach to visualization. Instead of focusing on the base maps like Google Earth does, it focuses on the data and application layers on top. Moreover, by using an open-source approach, CartoDB has attracted more than 50,000 users to its platform, and they are constantly contributing to the quality and quantity of available data and applications on the platform. The result has been thousands of beautiful maps that are useful across a number of industries, from real estate and banking to healthcare and natural resources. Investors showed their confidence in the company’s approach with an $8 million Series A round earlier this month.

    The market for geographic information systems (GIS) is estimated at $2.5 billion, the data visualization market stands at $4.2 billion, and location-based services stand at $7.5 billion. No wonder Google has been actively building on top of its platform by acquiring complementary assets such as Skybox Imaging and Titan Aerospace earlier this year. By combining satellite and drone imagery with its computing power and content delivery capabilities, Google has a chance to build the first fully vertically integrated GIS service and perhaps take Google Earth platform LIVE someday.

    While it does seem more glamorous to be launching rockets and building space stations, the truth of the matter is that major dollars will still be made on Earth by data crunchers converting space bytes into beautiful maps and infographics that anyone of us can use.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 10:37 am on September 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    About SKA from CIO Australia: “Pawsey rigs up petascale supercomputer” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    cio

    09 September, 2014
    Byron Connolly (CIO)

    Cray XC30 system has more than 35,000 cores.

    The $80 million Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia has completed the final upgrade of its ‘Magnus’ machine, which provides processing power in excess of a petaflop.

    Magnus, the largest research computer in the Southern Hemisphere, is a Cray XC30 system with more than 35,000 cores using Intel’s new Xeon’s E5-2600 v3 processors. A petaflop machine can complete one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

    cray
    The ‘Magnus’ petscale supercomputer

    It follows the launch in August 2012 of Pawsey’s terascale supercomputer, dubbed Fornax.

    The Pawsey facility is run by iVEC, a collaboration between the CSIRO, the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Curtin University, and Edith Cowan University.

    The CSIRO has been eyeing a petascale computer since late 2011 to crunch data for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio astronomy telescopes projects.

    SKA CSIRO  Pathfinder Telescope
    SKA CSIRO Pathfinder Radio Telescope

    ska murch
    SKA Murchison Widefield Array (MWA)

    Magnus will also be used by researchers in the areas of nanotechnology, high energy physics, medical research, mining and petroleum, architecture and construction, and urban planning.

    Pawsey Supercomputing Centre executive director, Dr Neil Stringfellow, said Pawsey currently runs 100 science projects being run by 500 plus users at any one time.

    Read more In pictures: Pawsey Centre

    Dr Stringfellow said researchers from Curtin University had already used the machine – running the earlier Intel Xeon E5-2600 v1 processors – to do lung simulations using a ‘moving mesh’ computational approach.

    “This helps us to understand how the lungs work – it’s the largest lung simulation in the world,” he said.

    This research will help people with asthma, for example, by creating improved aerosol medications, he said.

    Scientific researchers were so keen to get access to computing power provided by this machine that Pawsey was three times oversubscribed in the number of CPU hours that were available to give away.

    There was demand for 250 million CPU hours from researchers in mining, geoscience, bioinformatics, and ‘blue sky’ research in astronomy around galaxy formations.

    “What we have here is a world-class scientific instrument,” he said.

    Dr Stringfellow told CIO Australia that Pawsey had no plans to install a quantum computer in the near future.

    Meanwhile, the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 chips include platform telemetry sensors and metrics for CPU, memory and I/O usage, as well as thermal sensors that monitor airflow and outlet temperature.

    A cache monitoring feature also provides data that lets orchestration tools intelligently place and rebalance workloads, resulting in faster completion times.

    It also conducts analysis of performance anomalies due to competition for cache in a multi-tenant cloud environment where there is little visibility into what workloads consumers are running, Intel said.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 3:55 pm on September 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    About SKA in Botswana: “Botswana to play part in SKA project ” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    From
    bus

    Sept. 15, 2014
    John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

    Botswana has confirmed its participation in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Astronomy project. This was revealed by the Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology Johnny Swartz during the International Association of Science and Technology for Development Africa (IASTED) conference recently.

    dish

    Swartz told participants that Botswana would “host a subset of radio telescope dishes as part of a 3000-strong compliment of dishes stretching across Southern and East Africa.” According to the minister, taking part in the SKA project will enable the country participate in and contribute to frontier fundamental science research as well as enhance its scientific capacity. In addition, Swartz said this will help build related infrastructure and advance other areas such as high performance computing for the analysis of large data sets generated by telescopes. Swartz has met with the South African minister responsible for Science and Technology more than once, both in Botswana and South Africa.

    Earlier he explained that the government had introduced several programmes in an effort to create an enabling environment for research science and technology as well as innovation.

    “This shows Botswana’s commitment in prioritizing and placing science and technology as a major driver of our economy.” The policies alluded to by the Minister include the ‘Revised National Infrastructure and Communications Policy and the Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Policy of 2012.’

    The government was also in the process of formulating strategies to speed up the transformation of the country from being a natural-resource driven to a technology-driven and knowledge-driven economy.

    Meanwhile, in a related development, the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MTC) through its department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has established collaboration with IST-Africa consortium. IST-Africa consortium is a strategic partnership between international Information Management Corporation of Ireland and Ministries and National Councils responsible for ICT in 18 African countries, supported by the European Union and the African Union Commission.

    “This programme will facilitate the development of Botswana’s research sector through collaboration and funding. Its main objectives are to promote International Research Cooperation, Innovation and entrepreneurship as well as knowledge sharing and Skills Transfer between IST-Africa partners.

    In November 2013 MCT hosted two IST-Africa training workshops focused on Research Collaboration under programmes of Horizon 2020 and Living Labs. “The workshops helped in guiding relevant organisations on processes in place used to acquire funds from European organs during open calls,” said an official from DTPS.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 7:54 am on September 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    About SKA from The Register 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    Register

    Australia’s first pass at the Square Kilometre Array – the Boolardy Engineering Test Array – is about to get commissioned into a fully-live system.

    test

    The test array, known naturally enough as BETA, is part of the science-before-the-science: a proving ground for some of the new technologies being used for the SKA project, in particular, the Phased Array Feeds.

    Those feeds represent a new way of getting signals from the parabolic dishes of the array: instead of the waveguides that collect signals in an old style dish (like The Dish, which recently had to cut back the number of frequencies it would install waveguides for as a cost-saving measure), PAFs put an array of receptors at the focal plane.

    As BETA’s operators explain in this Arxiv paper, that arrangement lets “multiple independently steerable primary beams to be synthesised electronically”, but because it’s never been done before, the test deployment existed for tasks like working out how to form the beams for particular imaging tasks, measuring the pattern stability of the beams, and working out how best to arrange multiple beams into a large field of view.

    Along the way, BETA is also showing off some of the other technologies that’ll be fundamental for the SKA. Once signals from the telescopes have been digitised (using CSIRO-designed boards dubbed DragonFly-2), they’re sent from the telescopes to a central facility for processing.

    With just six antennas in place, the central processing (handled by another board from CSIRO called Redback-2) has plenty to work with: each PAF port on each antenna produces 304 individual 1 MHz channels, with each antenna needing 16 of the Redback-2 boards and 10 GB/second communications.

    Each 12 hour observation run of BETA is good for dumping nearly 154 MB/second on the facility’s disk, for a total of 816 GB. The ASKAP central processor, a 472-node Cray XC30 at Perth’s Pawsey Centre, is currently working hard to fill the 10 PB of Spectra Logic tape storage (duplicated for insurance) available for the facility, and that’s slated for expansion to 50 PB. ®

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 2:37 pm on September 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    From SKA: “China completes its prototype dish for the SKA” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    On 18 August 2014, Professor Philip Diamond, Director General of the SKA Organisation, accompanied by Mrs. Zhao Jing from the SKA China Office of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology visited the 54th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC54) in Shijiazhuang, about 300km south west of Beijing. Professor Diamond, hosted by Mr. Wang Feng, President of the company specialising in antenna construction, was able to see a complete prototype SKA antenna and hold discussions with the CETC54 SKA team.

    chinese
    The completed DVA-C antenna with CETC54′s SKA team and Phil Diamond, Director General of the SKA Organisation

    “The CETC54 crew had worked night and day for weeks to complete the antenna for my visit, and I was personally overwhelmed that they had worked so hard and completely impressed by what they had achieved”, reported Phil Diamond after the visit.

    CETC54, on behalf of the Joint Laboratory for Radio Astronomy Technology (JLRAT), the Chinese member of the SKA DISH consortium, is doing the manufacturing and installation of the Dish Verification Antenna China (DVA-C), one of the three prototype antennas being built as part of the SKA Design phase.

    Two other designs, one Canadian and one South African, are being considered by the DISH consortium to develop the final SKA dish prototype.

    canada
    On Wednesday, May 7th, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) successfully mounted the DVA-1 Primary Dish onto the telescope pier. DVA-1 is a prototype antenna for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

    s.a.
    First night in the Karoo for the first MeerKAT antenna against the backdrop of the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds. Credit Photowise
    27 March 2014, Carnarvon, Northern Cape, South Africa – The first of 64 antennas that will make up SKA’s African precursor telescope – MeerKAT – was officially launched today by South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom. The Minister also officially opened the specialised MeerKAT Karoo Array Processor Building – the cutting edge data centre for the MeerKAT telescope that has been built in an underground bunker at the Karoo observatory site.

    “Manufacturing of DVA-C started in late 2013 and it was a challenge both in terms of technology and fabrication to complete it in only eight months,” said Mr. Wang Feng.

    The DVA-C verification test will be completed in December 2014. The experience in building DVA-C and the tests conducted on it will benefit the SKA to design the final SKA dish prototype. The Chinese antenna is an offset Gregorian dual reflector. The main and sub reflectors were made of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP), based on single piece panel and surface metallizing technology. The main reflector size is 18m × 15m, the sub reflector size is 5m × 4.7m.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 8:02 am on September 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    From SKA: “Upgrade for SKA precursor telescope in Australia” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    On September 4, the first full-size second generation (Mk II) phased array feed (PAF) receiver was installed on an antenna at the Australian SKA site – the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.

    prelim
    The white-coated 2nd generation Phase Array Feed receiver on ASKAP’s antenna 29.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    SKA Murchison Widefield Array

    This marked a new milestone in the development of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, one of three SKA precursor telescopes.

    path
    CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope

    PAFs are a new technology being developed at CSIRO equivalent to “radio cameras”, providing a uniquely large field-of-view to image large swaths of the sky at the same time.

    The development of the second generation PAF system builds on many of the lessons learnt with the design, development, construction and testing of the Mk I receiver. Six Mk I PAFs and their associated electronics, were installed on ASKAP antennas in 2013 and are already producing early science results.

    The design of the Mk II now also incorporates novel components and assembly techniques such as the use of marine composites technology in the PAF casing to manage structural loading, thermal insulation, environmental protection and RFI shielding, as well as specially-designed ground planes that ensure a low and stable operating temperature for increased system reliability.

    The installation has quickly followed the recent preliminary ground-based aperture array tests on the Mk II PAF, which yielded promising system temperature results, confirming the overall system design.

    The Mk II PAF is currently installed on ASKAP Antenna 29 — to follow its progress tune in to the live MRO webcam.

    About ASKAP: one of three SKA precursor telescopes, ASKAP is currently being commissioned. It is using 6 antennas (out of a total of 36) in a test array called BETA, which are equipped with the 1st generation PAF receivers.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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  • richardmitnick 9:07 am on September 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , SKA-Square Millimeter Array   

    From SKA: “French NenuFAR telescope granted SKA Pathfinder status” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    The SKA Organisation has officially recognised NenuFAR, a French radio telescope, as a Pathfinder Project of the SKA telescope.

    NenuFAR
    NenuFAR

    NenuFAR, which stands for New Extension in Nançay Upgrading LOFAR, is a new low-frequency radio telescope under construction at the Nançay Observatory near Orleans to extend the existing international LOFAR radio telescope, an array of low frequency antennas spread across eight European countries and centred in the Netherlands.

    “With this announcement, NenuFAR is recognised as an instrument concept paving the way for the new science to be done with the SKA”, said Gilles Theureau, Director of the Nançay Observatory. “It’s excellent news for the project, as well as for the Nançay Observatory.”

    The SKA officially has three precursor telescopes, MeerKAT, ASKAP and MWA. Located at SKA sites in South Africa and Western Australia, these precursors are and will be carrying out scientific studies related to future SKA activities, as well as helping the development and testing of new crucial SKA technologies.

    SKA MeerKAT Telescope Array
    MeerKAT

    askap
    ASKAP

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    MWA

    Unlike precursors, pathfinder telescopes and systems are dotted around the globe. They include the famous Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which starred in the James Bond movie “Goldeneye”, the LOFAR low frequency array, which is based in Europe, and the JVLA, in North America, which was famously seen in the hit movie “Contact”, amongst others. They are also engaged in SKA-related technology and science studies. A full list is available here.

    NenuFAR will not only be an extension of LOFAR but also a stand-alone instrument. As an SKA pathfinder, the feedback from the design, construction and operation of NenuFAR will be used by the SKA Organisation to facilitate the development of the SKA.

    “NenuFAR is a promising instrument and the SKA’s low frequency array will certainly benefit from the development and lessons learnt on this project”, said Prof. Philip Diamond, Director General of the SKA Organisation. “We are happy to support the French community’s efforts and look forward to working more closely with our colleagues in France in the near future.”

    “The decision by the SKA Organisation to grant NenuFAR the official status of SKA Pathfinder is an important signal for the French community, recognising our expertise in radioastronomy,” added Denis Mourard, Deputy Director for Science of the Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers of CNRS.

    Further reactions from French stakeholders following the announcement:

    “This status as SKA Pathfinder will further increase our motivation and efficiency to complete the construction of NenuFAR Phase 1 as scheduled, and to prepare the next phases, thereby contributing to the development of SKA.” Claude Catala, President of the Observatoire de Paris

    “This recognition confirms our hopes to consolidate between Nançay, Orleans and Paris a world-class pole in radioastronomy in the 21st century.” Youssoufi Touré, President of the University of Orleans

    “This is excellent news. It will encourage us to draw from each step of the development of NenuFAR – starting with the completion of its phase 1 – useful lessons for the design and future operation of the SKA. At the same time it will give us a huge boost in seeking support for the following phases to bring NenuFAR to its full potential. It will contribute to unify the french radio community behind both NenuFAR and the SKA.” Michel Tagger and Philippe Zarka, principal investigators of NenuFAR.

    See the full article here.

    SKA Banner

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

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