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  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on June 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASKAP, , , , , Meerkat, , , SKA   

    From AAAS: “New radio telescope in South Africa will study galaxy formation” 

    AAAS

    From AAAS

    Jun. 19, 2018
    Daniel Clery

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    Today, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a continent-spanning radio astronomy project, announced that Spain has come on board as the collaboration’s 11th member. That boost will help the sometimes-troubled project as, over the next year or so, it forms an international treaty organization and negotiates funding to start construction. Meanwhile, on the wide-open plains of the Karoo, a semiarid desert northeast of Cape Town, South Africa, part of the telescope is already in place in the shape of the newly completed MeerKAT, the largest and most powerful radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.

    The last of 64 13.5-meter dishes was installed late last year, and next month South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will officially open the facility. Spread across 8 kilometers, the dishes have a collecting area similar to that of the great workhorse of astrophysics, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    But with new hardware designs and a powerful supercomputer to process data, the newcomer could have an edge on its 40-year-old northern cousin.

    “For certain studies, it will be the best” in the world, says Fernando Camilo, chief scientist of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cape Town, which operates MeerKAT. Sensitive across a wide swath of the radio spectrum, MeerKAT can study how hydrogen gas moves into galaxies to fuel star formation. With little experience, South Africa has “a major fantastic achievement,” says Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

    MeerKAT, which stands for Karoo Array Telescope along with the Afrikaans word for “more,” is one of several precursor instruments for the SKA. . The first phase of the SKA could begin in 2020 at a cost of €798 million. It would add another 133 dishes to MeerKAT, extending it across 150 kilometers, and place 130,000 smaller radio antennas across Australia—but only if member governments agree to fully fund the work. Months of delicate negotiations lie ahead. “In every country, people are having that discussion on what funding is available,” Falcke says.

    With MeerKAT’s 64 dishes now in place, engineers are learning how to process the data they gather. In a technique called interferometry, computers correlate the signals from pairs of dishes to build a much sharper image than a single dish could produce. For early science campaigns last year, 16 dishes were correlated. In March, the new supercomputer came online, and the team hopes to be fully operational by early next year. “It’s going to be a challenge,” Camilo says.

    MeerKAT’s dishes are smaller than the VLA’s, but having more of them puts it in “a sweet spot of sensitivity and resolution,” Camilo says. Its dishes are split into a densely packed core, which boosts sensitivity, and widely dispersed arms, which increase resolution. The VLA can opt for sensitivity or resolution, but not both at once—and only after the slow process of moving its 27 dishes into a different configuration.

    The combination makes MeerKAT ideal for mapping hydrogen, the fuel of star and galaxy formation. Because of a spontaneous transition in the atoms of neutral hydrogen, the gas constantly emits microwaves with a wavelength of 21 centimeters. Stretched to radio frequencies by the expansion of the universe, these photons land in the telescope’s main frequency band. It should have the sensitivity to map the faint signal to greater distances than before, and the resolution to see the gas moving in and around galaxies.

    MeerKAT will also watch for pulsars, dense and rapidly spinning stellar remnants. Their metronomic radio wave pulses serve as precise clocks that help astronomers study gravity in extreme conditions. “By finding new and exotic pulsars, MeerKAT can provide tests of physics,” says Philip Best of the University of Edinburgh. Falcke wants to get a better look at a highly magnetized pulsar discovered in 2013. He hopes it will shed light on the gravitational effects of the leviathan it orbits: the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

    Other SKA precursors are taking shape. The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia is testing a novel survey technology with its 36 12-meter dishes that could be used in a future phase of the SKA.

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    Whereas a conventional radio dish has a single-element detector—the equivalent of a single pixel—the ASKAP’s detectors have 188 elements, which should help it quickly map galaxies across large areas of the sky.

    Nearby is the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), an array of 2048 antennas, each about a meter across, that look like metallic spiders.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    Sensitive to lower frequencies than MeerKAT, the MWA can pick up the neutral hydrogen signal from as far back as 500 million years after the big bang, when the first stars and galaxies were lighting up the universe. Astronomers have been chasing the faint signal for years, and earlier this year, one group reported a tentative detection. “We’re really curious to see if it can be replicated,” says MWA Director Melanie Johnston-Hollitt of Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

    If the MWA doesn’t deliver a verdict, the SKA, with 130,000 similar antennas, almost certainly will. Although the MWA may detect the universe lighting up, the SKA intends to map out where it happened.

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 3:17 pm on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA, , The next big discovery in astronomy? Scientists probably found it years ago – but they don’t know it yet   

    From The Conversation: “The next big discovery in astronomy? Scientists probably found it years ago – but they don’t know it yet” 

    Conversation
    From The Conversation

    May 14, 2018
    Eileen Meyer

    1
    An artist’s illustration of a black hole “eating” a star. NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Earlier this year, astronomers stumbled upon a fascinating finding: Thousands of black holes likely exist near the center of our galaxy.

    1
    Hundreds — Perhaps Thousands — of Black Holes Occupy the Center of the Milky Way

    The X-ray images that enabled this discovery weren’t from some state-of-the-art new telescope. Nor were they even recently taken – some of the data was collected nearly 20 years ago.

    No, the researchers discovered the black holes by digging through old, long-archived data.

    Discoveries like this will only become more common, as the era of “big data” changes how science is done. Astronomers are gathering an exponentially greater amount of data every day – so much that it will take years to uncover all the hidden signals buried in the archives.

    The evolution of astronomy

    Sixty years ago, the typical astronomer worked largely alone or in a small team. They likely had access to a respectably large ground-based optical telescope at their home institution.

    Their observations were largely confined to optical wavelengths – more or less what the eye can see. That meant they missed signals from a host of astrophysical sources, which can emit non-visible radiation from very low-frequency radio all the way up to high-energy gamma rays. For the most part, if you wanted to do astronomy, you had to be an academic or eccentric rich person with access to a good telescope.

    Old data was stored in the form of photographic plates or published catalogs. But accessing archives from other observatories could be difficult – and it was virtually impossible for amateur astronomers.

    Today, there are observatories that cover the entire electromagnetic spectrum. No longer operated by single institutions, these state-of-the-art observatories are usually launched by space agencies and are often joint efforts involving many countries.

    With the coming of the digital age, almost all data are publicly available shortly after they are obtained. This makes astronomy very democratic – anyone who wants to can reanalyze almost any data set that makes the news. (You too can look at the Chandra data that led to the discovery of thousands of black holes!)

    These observatories generate a staggering amount of data. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope, operating since 1990, has made over 1.3 million observations and transmits around 20 GB of raw data every week, which is impressive for a telescope first designed in the 1970s.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile now anticipates adding 2 TB of data to its archives every day.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Data firehose

    The archives of astronomical data are already impressively large. But things are about to explode.

    Each generation of observatories are usually at least 10 times more sensitive than the previous, either because of improved technology or because the mission is simply larger. Depending on how long a new mission runs, it can detect hundreds of times more astronomical sources than previous missions at that wavelength.

    For example, compare the early EGRET gamma ray observatory, which flew in the 1990s, to NASA’s flagship mission Fermi, which turns 10 this year. EGRET detected only about 190 gamma ray sources in the sky. Fermi has seen over 5,000.

    NASA/Fermi LAT


    NASA/Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope

    The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, an optical telescope currently under construction in Chile, will image the entire sky every few nights. It will be so sensitive that it will generate 10 million alerts per night on new or transient sources, leading to a catalog of over 15 petabytes after 10 years.

    LSST

    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    The Square Kilometre Array , when completed in 2020, will be the most sensitive telescope in the world, capable of detecting airport radar stations of alien civilizations up to 50 light-years away. In just one year of activity, it will generate more data than the entire internet.


    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia


    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA LOFAR core (“superterp”) near Exloo, Netherlands


    These ambitious projects will test scientists’ ability to handle data. Images will need to be automatically processed – meaning that the data will need to be reduced down to a manageable size or transformed into a finished product. The new observatories are pushing the envelope of computational power, requiring facilities capable of processing hundreds of terabytes per day.

    The resulting archives – all publicly searchable – will contain 1 million times more information that what can be stored on your typical 1 TB backup disk.

    Unlocking new science

    The data deluge will make astronomy become a more collaborative and open science than ever before. Thanks to internet archives, robust learning communities and new outreach initiatives, citizens can now participate in science. For example, with the computer program Einstein@Home, anyone can use their computer’s idle time to help search for gravitational waves from colliding black holes.

    It’s an exciting time for scientists, too. Astronomers like myself often study physical phenomena on timescales so wildly beyond the typical human lifetime that watching them in real-time just isn’t going to happen. Events like a typical galaxy merger – which is exactly what it sounds like – can take hundreds of millions of years. All we can capture is a snapshot, like a single still frame from a video of a car accident.

    However, there are some phenomena that occur on shorter timescales, taking just a few decades, years or even seconds. That’s how scientists discovered those thousands of black holes in the new study. It’s also how they recently realized that the X-ray emission from the center of a nearby dwarf galaxy has been fading since first detected in the 1990s. These new discoveries suggest that more will be found in archival data spanning decades.

    In my own work, I use Hubble archives to make movies of “jets,” high-speed plasma ejected in beams from black holes. I used over 400 raw images spanning 13 years to make a movie of the jet in nearby galaxy M87. That movie showed, for the first time, the twisting motions of the plasma, suggesting that the jet has a helical structure.

    This kind of work was only possible because other observers, for other purposes, just happened to capture images of the source I was interested in, back when I was in kindergarten. As astronomical images become larger, higher resolution and ever more sensitive, this kind of research will become the norm.

    See the full article here .

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    The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:45 pm on April 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Interactive infographic developed by SKAO, New Platform To Showcase SKA’s Major Engineering Progress, , SKA   

    From SKA: “New Platform To Showcase SKA’s Major Engineering Progress” 


    SKA

    27 April 2018

    1
    The interactive infographic developed by SKAO showcases the ongoing Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) – key engineering milestones that assess the readiness levels of the major elements of the SKA. Click on the image in the full blog post or the full article to access the new platform.

    The SKA Organisation is pleased to announce the launch of a new platform highlighting the SKA’s key engineering milestones. The interactive infographic will showcase the ongoing Critical Design Reviews (CDRs), which assess the readiness levels of the major elements of the SKA.

    As well as capturing international teams’ progress towards and beyond their CDRs, the new platform will feature a wide range of news stories, profiles, case studies, photos and videos, providing context on the work that has been done so far.

    All the CDRs will take place in 2018 and early 2019, with reviewers and engineering consortia members meeting at the SKA’s headquarters in the UK to discuss and assess their proposed designs. The first full review, for the Telescope Manager (the set of software that will operate and monitor the telescope), was completed last week.

    The CDR platform is designed to be a central hub for updates, chronicling each major step on the road towards SKA construction and showcasing the technological innovations that are making it possible.

    It will also highlight the expertise and talents of the teams behind that progress.

    Users will get to know key individuals from the SKA Organisation and its partner institutions in the global consortia through detailed profiles that demonstrate how people – not just technology – are crucial to the SKA’s success.

    Scientists will be on hand to explain the significance of reaching each target, and how it relates to the project’s key science goals, from looking at how the very first stars and galaxies formed just after the Big Bang, through to understanding the vast magnetic fields which permeate the cosmos.

    For our industry partners, the platform is a place to highlight their vital contributions to the project, showcasing how their technologies are being used both at this crucial CDR stage and going forward.

    A key characteristic of the site is that its functionalities will increase over time, just like the SKA itself. As the telescope’s design elements are finalised through the CDRs and towards the System CDR, the infographic will grow its content and capabilities in parallel.

    The CDRs represent a global effort by 9 international engineering consortia representing 500 engineers and scientists in 20 countries.

    Since 2013, these nine consortia have been focusing on the main components of the telescope, each essential to the overall success of the project, while three others focus on developing advanced instrumentation for the telescope. The reviews will allow the SKA to fine-tune if needed and then adopt the proposed designs to proceed to construction.

    Last week’s CDR for the Telescope Manager (TM) element of the SKA went well, according to Prof. Yashwant Gupta, Director of the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of India and Lead of the TM consortium.

    “We’ve had a very good CDR review” said Prof. Gupta after the meeting at SKA headquarters. “The review panel stated that they didn’t find any showstoppers in the overall TM architecture that we’ve presented. I really would like to thank the team members from all the different countries who’ve come together. It’s a really positive take from the entire work over the last several years.”

    “It’s a very good recognition of the work done by the consortium members and by the SKA Office people” added Maurizio Miccolis, SKAO Project Manager for TM.

    Earlier in the year, the reviews for the four sub-elements of the Central Signal Processor (the pulsar search, pulsar timing, and both the Mid and Low correlator and beamformer) also took place, allowing the overall system design work to move forward ahead of the consortium’s final review.

    Watch the first impressions from the Telescope Manager Critical Design Review:

    The new CDR platform will be updated regularly as the process advances, with content also being shared on SKA social media accounts. Keep an eye on updates here: https://cdr.skatelescope.org/

    See the full article here .

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    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    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.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:47 pm on April 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , SKA, SKA precursor upgrade makes telescope 10 times more powerful   

    From SKA: “SKA precursor upgrade makes telescope 10 times more powerful” 


    SKA

    1
    MWA aerial view of the centre of the array. AAVS1, the station of prototype SKA-low antennas, is visible at bottom left. Credit – Curtin University

    24 April 2018

    A major expansion of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), one of four SKA precursor telescopes, has been completed, doubling the number of antenna stations at the remote site in Western Australia.

    The addition of 2,048 antennas will make the low-frequency radio telescope ten times more powerful as it seeks to explore the evolution of the Universe. As one of four precursors to the SKA, the MWA provides scientists with invaluable knowledge and carries out scientific study related to future SKA activities. Curtin University, based in Perth, operates the telescope on behalf of a consortium of 21 research institutions.

    MWA Director Prof Melanie Johnston-Hollitt notes that the upgrade will greatly assist scientists in their research. “The telescope is now ten times more powerful and with double the resolution, meaning not only can we explore more of the Universe, but the quality of the images we produce is significantly improved, providing the opportunity for greater scientific discovery,” Prof Johnston-Hollitt said.

    Australia’s Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash attended a celebratory event at Curtin University alongside Prof Johnston-Hollitt, SKA Organisation Director-General Prof Philip Diamond and Chair of the SKA Board of Directors Dr Catherine Cesarsky.

    “The SKA will be the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever constructed and will be used by scientists from around the world to make major discoveries about the universe. Lessons learned in building and operating the MWA are vital to delivering the SKA,” Minister Cash said in a statement. “These projects are also driving the development of new technologies, particularly in the field of big data management. This work is helping to expand Australian businesses and create jobs, in Western Australia and across the country.”

    Read the official press release on the Curtin University website.

    See the full article here .

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    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    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.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:14 pm on February 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Signs of earliest stars seen from Australia, SKA   

    From CSIRO: “Signs of earliest stars seen from Australia “ 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    01 Mar 2018
    Annabelle Young
    Phone +61 2 9372 4270
    Mobile +61 403 928 102
    Email annabelle.young@csiro.au

    Using a small radio telescope at a CSIRO observatory in Western Australia, US astronomers have detected a signal from the first stars to have emerged in the early universe about 180 million years after the Big Bang.

    1
    Artist’s rendering of how the first stars in the universe may have looked. ©N.R.Fuller, National Science Foundation.

    Inflationary Universe. NASA/WMAP


    A timeline of the universe, updated to show when the first stars emerged. This updated timeline of the universe reflects the recent discovery that the first stars emerged by 180 million years after the Big Bang. The research behind this timeline was conducted by Judd Bowman of Arizona State University and his colleagues, with funding from the National Science Foundation. ©N.R.Fuller, National Science Foundation.

    3
    EDGES ground-based radio spectrometer. In each instrument, sky radiation is collected by a wideband dipole-like antenna consisting of two rectangular metal panels mounted horizontally above a metal ground plane. A receiver with two internal noise comparison sources is installed underneath the ground plane. A balun is used to guide radiation from the antenna panels to the receiver. The EDGES detection required the exceptional radio quietness at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, as Australian national legislation limits the use of radio transmitters within 260 kilometers of the site. This discovery sets the stage for follow-up observations with other powerful low-frequency facilities at the same radio-quiet site, including the forthcoming SKA-low.

    4
    EDGES ground-based radio spectrometer, CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. The instrument on its wire mesh ground plane. The bottom panel shows a closer view of the antenna before the extension of the ground plane. The two elevated metal panels form the dipole-based antenna and are supported by fiberglass legs. The balun consists of the two vertical brass tubes in the middle of the antenna. The receiver is located under the white metal support structure. The EDGES detection required the exceptional radio quietness at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, as Australian national legislation limits the use of radio transmitters within 260 kilometers of the site. This discovery sets the stage for follow-up observations with other powerful low-frequency facilities at the same radio-quiet site, including the forthcoming SKA-low.

    The discovery is reported in the journal Nature today.

    After the Big Bang, the universe cooled and went dark for millions of years. In the darkness, gravity pulled matter together until stars formed and burst into life, bringing the ‘cosmic dawn’.

    This new-found signal marks the closest astronomers have seen to that moment.

    “Finding this miniscule signal has opened a new window on the early universe,” lead author Dr Judd Bowman of Arizona State University said.

    Dr Bowman has been running his Experiment to Detect the Global EoR (Epoch of Reionization) Signature (EDGES ) for 12 years. Nine years ago he started doing the observations from CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), after searching for the best place on the planet for this work.

    The radio signal Dr Bowman’s team found was incredibly faint, coming from 13.6 billion years back in the universe’s history.

    It also fell in the region of the spectrum used by FM radio stations, making detection of this weak signal from most Earth-based sites impossible.

    The MRO observatory is in a naturally extremely ‘radio-quiet’ location. This unique characteristic is protected by a legislated ‘radio quiet’ zone up to 260 km across, which keeps human-made activities that produce interfering radio signals to an absolute minimum.

    The MRO’s development was managed by Antony Schinckel, CSIRO’s Head of Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Construction and Planning.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    “Finding this signal is an absolute triumph, a triumph made possible by the extreme attention to detail by Judd’s team, combined with the exceptional radio quietness of the CSIRO site,” Mr Schinckel said.

    “We worked hard to select this site for the long-term future of radio astronomy after exhaustive investigations across the country. We believe we have the gold standard in radio quietness, the best site in the world.

    “This is one of the most technically challenging radio astronomy experiments ever attempted. The lead authors include two of the best radio astronomy experimentalists in the world and they have gone to great lengths to design and calibrate their equipment in order to have convincing evidence for a real signal,” Mr Schinckel said.

    Dr Robert Braun, Science Director at the SKA Organisation said “this is a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved with the combination of an excellent site and world-class engineering, boding well for the great discoveries that will be enabled by the SKA.”

    Dr Bowman praised the support he had received from CSIRO.

    “The infrastructure and logistical support that CSIRO has provided for EDGES has enabled our small team to focus on developing the new instrumentation and techniques needed for the experiment.

    “CSIRO’s operations team at the MRO has been phenomenal. They have helped to install the experiment and maintain it between our visits to the site. Their expertise has been invaluable, they helped us learn how to operate in the outback environment.

    “In addition astronomers at the Curtin University node of ICRAR supported the EDGES project by sharing equipment and supplies on site at the MRO,” Dr Bowman said.

    The MRO was developed by CSIRO for its Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope and also hosts a low-frequency telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array , developed by an international collaboration, led by Curtin University.

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    These telescopes make use of the radio-quiet nature of the site and also are important precursors to the Square Kilometre Array itself. It is now the Australian site for the low-frequency telescope of the future Square Kilometre Array, SKA1 Low.

    CSIRO hosts and manages a wide range of science-ready national research facilities and infrastructure that is used by thousands of Australian and international researchers each year.

    CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri people as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site.

    See the full article here .

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    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on February 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SKA, SKA prototype dish assembled for the first time   

    From SKA: “SKA prototype dish assembled for the first time” 


    SKA

    2.6.18

    Contact:
    William Garnier
    Director of Communications, Outreach & Education
    SKA Organisation
    +44 161 306 9613
    +44 7814 908 932
    w.garnier@skatelescope.org

    1
    The fully assembled SKA dish prototype – SKA-P – at the CETC54 assembly workshop in Shijiazhuang, China. Credit: SKA Organisation

    The first fully assembled SKA dish was unveiled today at a ceremony in Shijiazhuang, China, by the Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, in the presence of representatives from the countries involved and the SKA Organisation. The dish is one of two final prototypes that will be tested ahead of production of an early array.

    In a major milestone for the SKA Project, the 54th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC54) has completed the structural assembly of the first SKA dish, bringing together components from China, Germany, and Italy.

    The state-of-the-art 15-metre diameter dish was unveiled today at a ceremony in Shijiazhuang, China, hosted by the SKA Organisation and the SKA China Office and organised by the Joint Laboratory for Radio Astronomy Technology (JLRAT) and the SKA Dish consortium, supported by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the CETC group.

    “This is a major achievement by all the partners involved” said Prof. Philip Diamond, Director-General of the SKA Organisation, which is overseeing the project. “After many years of intense design effort, we have an actual SKA dish, built by an international collaboration between China, Germany and Italy that is very much representative of the global nature of the SKA project.”

    “Our Chinese partners are extremely well resourced. They’ve demonstrated that they have the technology and capability to construct a telescope with the specifications that the SKA requires”, adds Mark Harman, SKA Organisation Project Manager for the Dish consortium

    An international effort across 18 time zones

    This year will see the culmination of a 3-year effort by an international consortium that includes institutions in China acting as the consortium lead, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Sweden, overseen by the SKA Organisation.

    Across 18 time zones, extensive work has taken place to reach this point as the various teams around the world work towards building a fully functional SKA dish prototype.

    CETC54 has been leading the design and production of the prototype dish, in particular the production of its highly precise main reflector, sub-reflector, backup structure, and pedestal.

    “This is a mature method developed by CETC54. Applied to the SKA dish, it allows us to achieve and maintain the dish surface to a very precise surface-accuracy level as well as consistency for all panels”, said Wang Feng from the Joint Laboratory for Radio Astronomy Technology (JLRAT), recently appointed SKA Dish Consortium Lead.

    In Mainz, Germany, MT Mechatronics (MTM) have been designing and manufacturing the precise hardware and electronics – such as the Drive Units and Electronics – used to move the dish.

    “We’ve been entrusted with demonstrating precision engineering in order to move the telescopes with up to a thousandth of a degree accuracy, as well as reliability to produce over 130 such systems behaving equally well.” comments Lutz Stenvers, Managing Director from MTM and SKA Dish Structure Lead Engineer.

    In Italy, near Naples, the Società Aerospaziale Mediterranea (SAM) has been working on the design and production of the feed indexer, an electro-mechanical component that will support the various receivers and move them into position to align them with the optics of the dish when required, depending on the observations.

    “The feed indexer is a very innovative part of the dish, the first of its kind. We’ve got stringent requirements, as the indexer needs to move with high accuracy to position the receivers with sub-millimetric precision, and it also needs to be able to sustain heavy loads, with for example the Band 1 receiver alone weighing 165kg” explains Renato Aurigemma, the SAM team coordinator.

    Today, for the first time, all these components came together at CETC54’s assembly workshop to test how the structure as a whole behaves.

    “We will be putting the dish through its paces to see how it responds to different commands and whether it performs as expected” adds Wang Feng. “This will allow us to spot any discrepancies and fine tune the design if needed. The next step will be to test it on site with its instrumentation.”

    A second dish, currently under production at CETC54 and funded by the German Max Planck Society, will be shipped to South Africa and assembled at the South African SKA site in the next few months where it will be equipped with its instrumentation and used to conduct real observations for the first time to test its performance and calibrate all the systems.

    Instrumentation & control

    Onsala Space Observatory at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, EMSS Antennas in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Oxford University and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in the United Kingdom have been working on the various receivers that will be fitted on this second dish, covering a broad frequency range from 350 MHz to 15.3 GHz.

    Additional institutes involved include the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), who are developing the software to monitor, coordinate and control the Dish subsystems. A group of engineers at the National Research Council (NRC) Canada, are developing the hardware that digitises the signals recorded with each of the five receivers while The University of Bordeaux, France contributes their expertise to digitise high frequency signals. SKA South Africa has been leading the System Engineering, which played a key role in coordinating the consortium.

    Early Production

    The SKA prototype dish unveiled today is being delivered as part of the consortium’s critical design review – the final stage of design work before construction. It and the Max-Planck funded dish, are the final precursors to a further series of up to six SKA dishes that will form an Early Production Array (EPA), expected to be built on site from 2019 under the leadership of the SKA Organisation.

    The EPA will be used to demonstrate a working array, allowing engineers to spot any further design or production issues ahead of full-scale production. Additionally, it will for the first time provide an opportunity to integrate dishes with prototypes of other critical SKA elements provided by their respective design institutions such as the Signal and Data network, the Central Signal Processor where the signals from all dishes are correlated, the Science Data Processor (the imaging software) and the Telescope Manager software used to send commands to the dishes and monitor their status.

    “The EPA will allow us not only to bring production and construction forward but it will also allow us to test how key SKA components work together on the field. In essence, it’s bringing the various pieces of this puzzle together to see if they match and produce the image that we expect” concludes Joe McMullin, recently appointed as SKA Programme Director.

    See the full article here .

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    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    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.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:19 pm on December 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Across 18 time zones extensive work has taken place over the past 19 months as the teams press on towards building a fully functional SKA dish prototype with all optics and three receivers, , , , , In the second part of our feature story on designing the SKA telescopes we look back at the ongoing global effort to deliver the SKA dish prototype with work happening in many countries, , SKA   

    From SKA: “Designing the SKA Telescopes – Across 18 time zones: a global effort to deliver a dish prototype” 


    SKA

    21 December 2017

    1

    In the second part of our feature story on designing the SKA telescopes, we look back at the ongoing global effort to deliver the SKA dish prototype, with work happening in many countries.

    As the year comes to a close and many of us wind down for the holiday season, teams of scientists, engineers and manufacturers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, UK and South Africa – all part of an international consortium – are busy designing, manufacturing, testing and refining optics, structures and instruments before they can be brought together to become what is perhaps the most familiar part of a radio telescope: a dish.

    Across 18 time zones, extensive work has taken place over the past 19 months as the teams press on towards building a fully functional SKA dish prototype with all optics and three receivers. Eventually, the SKA1-mid instrument, the South African arm of the first phase of the SKA telescope, will comprise of 133 dishes, complemented by the 64 dishes of the MeerKAT telescope already installed in the Karoo region.

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    The background

    Three different antenna concepts were initially developed to be considered for the design of the SKA dish. All three were constructed using different technology from different partners, representing the very best in radio telescope dish technology currently available.

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    The international panel of experts chaired by Dr. Richard Hills at the CETC54 fabrication workshop in Shijiazhuang, China. Credit: CETC54

    In May 2016, following a unanimous recommendation by a five-strong selection panel of engineering experts in the fields of composites, radio telescope antennas and systems engineering, the SKA Organisation selected concepts proposed by a Shijiazhuang, China-based team composed of the 54th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC54) and their European partner, MT Mechatronics (MTM) of Mainz, Germany and S.A.M from Naples.

    The selected design was an optimised panel space-frame supported metal (PSM) concept, made up of 66 panels for the main reflector.

    Roger Franzen, SKA Dish Consortium Lead at the time said “We are confident the selected design will perform well in the harsh conditions of the Karoo in South Africa and will deliver the precision that the scientific community needs to answer the questions they’re trying to solve. The next step for us is to build and test a prototype at the South African site.”

    And this is exactly what the international team set out to achieve, each working against the clock on a piece of this international puzzle…

    Chinese innovation for high precision on a large scale.

    CETC54 have undertaken the production of the main reflector, sub-reflector, backup structure and pedestal for the dish. Since 2016, the group have produced 66 unique moulds to shape the 66 different metallic triangular 3m-a-side panels that make up the main reflector, each with its own specific curvature depending on its position.

    Each mould weighs between 4 and 5 tons and was made with an average surface accuracy between 0.010 and 0.030 mm – less than the width of a human hair.

    One of the main challenges faced by the group is to deliver optimum performance in terms of surface accuracy and curvature, replicated for each of the 66 panels, and in the future for each dish. In total, 8778 such panels will need to meet the exact same specifications in the first phase of construction of the SKA. Whilst the tolerances are not as tight as their optical counterparts due to the fact that radio wavelengths are longer than optical wavelengths, they still have to be built to a level of precision unsurpassed in the field of radio astronomy.

    The panel is formed and shaped on the mould using suction while its backup structure is attached and formed. It is then bonded using a special high performance adhesive.

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    “This is a mature method created by CETC54. Applied to the SKA panels, it allows us to achieve and maintain the dish surface to a very precise surface-accuracy level as well as consistency for all panels”, said Wang Feng from the Joint Laboratory for Radio Astronomy Technology (JLRAT), recently appointed SKA Dish Consortium Lead.

    “Our Chinese partners are extremely well resourced. They’ve demonstrated that they have the technology and capability to construct a telescope with the requirements that the SKA have”, adds Mark Harman, SKA Organisation Project Manager for the Dish consortium during a visit of the fabrication workshop in September 2017 as production was in full swing.


    As 2017 comes to an end, all moulds have been produced and the team is busy finishing the production of the 66 panels.

    German engineering for precision movement.

    Meanwhile at their integration facility in Mainz, Germany, MT Mechatronics (MTM) have been designing and manufacturing the precise hardware and electronics – such as the Drive Units and Electronics – used to move the dish.

    Their challenge is to manufacture high quality equipment to fit in a restricted space pre-determined by the diameter and height of the pedestal, as well as to make that equipment RFI-compliant.

    These servo drive systems are crucial to the proper and precise operation of the dish. If an alert is sent out, the SKA telescope will need to move and point at a new object with a precision of a few arcseconds (1/3600 of a degree) to follow up on transient events like supernovae and fast radio bursts. It’s an essential capability for a responsive telescope.

    “Our challenge is to design and manufacture servo drive systems that will be able to translate the instructions from the Telescope Manager software to move the hundreds of SKA dishes synchronously and with that level of precision under the harsh environmental conditions of the Karoo area” explains MTM’s Managing Director and SKA Dish Structure Lead Engineer Lutz Stenvers.

    This requirement adds another layer of complexity on top of the performance expected of the SKA-mid dish telescope.

    In the next few days, the servo systems will be packed and shipped to China to be assembled with the rest of the dish during the Christmas period. MTM engineers will then travel to CETC54 in January to commission the servomotors.

    ___________________________________________________________________________
    RFI compliance

    The SKA sites were chosen for their radio-quietness, which will allow the telescopes to detect the faint signals coming from Space. To preserve this pristine environment, the SKA project is going to great lengths to make sure that all equipment eventually installed on site – from the solar panels used to generate electricity to the large server racks needed to process the signals, the instrumentation on the dishes themselves and indeed the servomotors inside the pedestals – emits a minimum of radio frequency interference (RFI) and is properly shielded so that their emissions don’t swamp out the signals that the telescope is trying to pick up.

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    Italian creativity for flexible & reliable instrumentation.

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    The feed indexer undergoing tests at the SAM workshop near Naples. Credit: SAM

    In Italy, near Naples, the Società Aerospaziale Mediterranea (SAM) is working on the design and production of the feed indexer, an electro-mechanical component that will support the various receivers and move them into position to align them with the optics of the dish when required, depending on the observations.

    Renato Aurigemma, the SAM team coordinator, is rightly very proud of it. “The feed indexer is a very innovative part of the dish, the first of its kind. We’ve got stringent requirements, as the indexer needs to move with high accuracy to position the receivers with sub-millimetric precision, and it also needs to be able to sustain heavy loads, with for example the Band 1 receiver alone weighing 165kg!”

    “I think the fact that we’re involved in such an international and dynamic team really valorises the italian industry participation to the project.”

    The team has recently conducted the final tests at their facility in Naples, before shipping the indexer to China for assembly on the dish in January.

    Instrumentation

    he Dish consortium also includes the delivery of some of the instrumentation – the receivers – for the dishes. A group of engineers at the National Research Council (NRC) Canada, are developing the hardware that digitises the signals recorded with each of the five feeds. The University of Bordeaux, France will contribute their expertise enabling the digitisation of high frequency signals.

    The receivers prepare the analogue signals from the feeds to a digitised data for transmission over optical fibre. As part of the consortium’s work for its Critical Design Review (CDR), prototype receivers are being developed for the high-priority Bands 1, 2 & 5, covering the frequency ranges of 350 MHz to 1.05 GHz, 950 MHz to 1.76 GHz and 4.6 to 15.3 GHz respectively, thus allowing to cover wavelengths from 2-86 cm.

    Band 1: Swedish craftsmanship, Canadian collaboration

    In 2016 the team from Onsala Space Observatory at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, designed and manufactured a first Band 1 feed for the SKA dish.

    In June 2016, it was shipped to the Dominion Radio Astronomy Observatory in British Columbia, Canada for site testing on a full-size SKA prototype dish built by the National Research Council of Canada a few years ago. The huge feed horn, with an opening close to 1m in diameter and weighing more than 100kg, was lifted 12m into the air to be fitted on the dish.

    Following a programme of different tests over 18 months in Canada and Sweden the team was able to improve the design of the feed to maximise its performance. The new improved feed uses components made in Onsala together with others from the Swedish company Ventana Hackås AB – at almost 63 degrees North! – and ridges made by MegaMETA in Lithuania.

    “We’re very proud of the Band 1 feed that we’ve manufactured and hand-assembled in our own workshop at Onsala Space Observatory”, explains Miroslav Pantaleev, Project Manager for the Band 1. “The test campaign in Canada gave us valuable feedback which we’re now integrating into the design of a second receiver to increase its performance.”

    A key component in the Band 1 success story are its low-noise amplifiers, developed by the Gothenburg company Low Noise Factory. Normally, amplifiers for radio telescopes have to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. Instead, the amplifiers have been specially designed to maintain sensitivity without using any cooling at all. For the SKA, that translates into potential savings in energy, maintenance and investment.

    The upgraded feed will be shipped to South Africa in 2018 to be fitted onto the SKA dish prototype at the South African SKA site.

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    Band 2: Early success in South Africa.

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    The assembled band 2 feed with the review panel and teams from EMSS and SARAO. Credit: EMSS

    Early in December 2017, a development team from EMSS Antennas in Stellenbosch, South Africa, working on the band 2 receiver and assisted by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory system engineering team successfully concluded the CDR for their sub-deliverable with the dish consortium.

    The panel included international experts on radio astronomy receivers, including representatives from SKA Organisation, the National Research Centre of Canada, the European Space Agency and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Spain.

    Encouragingly, the results are much better than the required receiver noise temperature, which would result in very good system sensitivity on the optimised optics.

    “This is quite a milestone” explains Mark Bowen dish engineer at SKA Organisation and chair of the review panel “It’s the first successful CDR within the dish consortium and actually, it’s the first successful CDR of the SKA pre-production project!”

    Band 5: high frequency performance.

    A later addition to the project was the Band 5 Feed system developed in the UK by Oxford University and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). This feed system will provide SKA with capability to observe from frequencies of 4.8-15.3 GHz. The group are in the design stage and have recently undertaken a major review of the design. Prototyping of critical components is underway to validate their performance.

    It’s also been proposed to expand the upper edge of band 5 from 15.3 GHz to 25 GHz.

    “Thanks the very good performance of the dish surface, we’re able to look at increasing the frequency coverage in the future, going up to 25 GHz and possibly higher. This would allow the SKA to play an important role in fields like planet-formation and exobiology” explains Tyler Bourke, Project Scientist for the SKA Organisation.

    Monitoring & Control: another success.

    To control the dish system a Team of specialist Telescope Software engineers at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) are developing the Local Monitor and Control (LMC) system. This will monitor, coordinate and control the Dish subsystems. This requires close interaction with all the teams. The INAF LMC control system will act a glue to harmonise all the components in the dish to act as one system. This is no simple task when they need to coordinate the activities of 200 engineers in seven countries.

    In June 2017, the South African and Italian engineers led by Corrado Trigilio, coordinator of the LMC group for INAF, successfully carried out a communication and operation test between the central control of the Dish, the LMC element and the receiver system controller that will be installed at the focus of the telescope.

    The next steps.

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    In June 2017 the infrastructure team from SARAO poured the concrete foundation – using 120m3 of concrete – for the first SKA prototype dish at the South African SKA site in the Karoo. Credit: Telalo Lekalake / SARAO.

    So what next? 2018 will be an exciting year as the work of the consortium will be nearing completion and the pieces of this international puzzle come together ahead of their Critical Design Review.

    A ceremony at the CETC54 factory in China in early February will mark the first assembly of the dish with its main reflector, sub-reflector, back structure and pedestal from China, servomotors from Germany and feed indexer from Italy.

    Shortly after, a second dish, currently under production by the same partners and funded by the German Max-Planck Institute, will be shipped to South Africa and assembled at the South African SKA site where in June 2017 teams from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory SARAO poured the concrete foundation on top of which it will stand. For the first time, a full SKA dish prototype will be assembled at the site of the future SKA1-mid telescope with its various components from Dish consortium partners.

    “No doubt we will learn very valuable lessons from those site tests”, says Mark Harman. “This will allow us to further refine the design and make any tweaks necessary to ensure optimal performance in the harsh conditions of the Karoo.”

    “At that point, we will be confident that we’ve delivered a reliable and high performance dish that meets, and very likely, exceeds the specifications. After that, we’ll be ready to mass produce them in the hundreds!”, he concludes.

    See the full article here .

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    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    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.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:41 pm on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , SKA, SKA signs Big Data cooperation agreement with CERN   

    From SKA: “SKA signs Big Data cooperation agreement with CERN” 


    SKA

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    CERN

    14 July 2017 [Just now in social media.]

    William Garnier
    Director of Communications, Outreach and Education
    SKA Organisation
    Mob: +447814908932
    Email: w.garnier@skatelescope.org

    Arnaud Marsollier
    Head of Press
    CERN
    Email: Arnaud.Marsollier@cern.ch

    1
    Dr. Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director-General, and Prof. Philip Diamond, SKA Director-General, signing a cooperation agreement between the two organisations on Big Data. © 2017 CERN

    SKA Organisation and CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, yesterday signed an agreement formalising their growing collaboration in the area of extreme-scale computing.

    The agreement establishes a framework for collaborative projects that addresses joint challenges in approaching Exascale* computing and data storage, and comes as the LHC will generate even more data in the coming decade and SKA is preparing to collect a vast amount of scientific data as well.

    Around the world, countries are engaged in efforts to cope with a leap in the demands of Information and Communication Technology. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world’s largest radio telescope when built, and CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, famous for discovering the Higgs Boson, will contribute in driving the required technological developments.

    LHC

    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    “The signature of this collaboration agreement between two of the largest producers of science data on the planet shows that we are really entering a new era of science worldwide”, said Prof. Philip Diamond, SKA Director-General. “Both CERN and SKA are and will be pushing the limits of what is possible technologically, and by working together and with industry, we are ensuring that we are ready to make the most of this upcoming data and computing surge.”

    “The LHC computing demands are tackled by the Worldwide LHC computing grid which employs more than half a million computing cores around the globe interconnected by a powerful network. As our demands increase with the planned intensity upgrade of the LHC we want to expand this concept by using common ideas and infrastructure, into a scientific cloud. SKA will be an ideal partner in this endeavour.” said Prof. Eckhard Elsen, CERN Director of Research and Computing.

    CERN and SKA have identified the acquisition, storage, management, distribution, and analysis of scientific data as particularly burning topics to meet the technological challenges.

    In the case of the SKA, it is expected that phase 1 of the project – representing approximately 10% of the whole SKA – will generate around 300 PB (petabytes) of data products every year. This is ten times more than today’s biggest science experiments.

    CERN has just surpassed the 200 PB limit for raw data collected by the experiments at the LHC over the past seven years. A layered (tiered) system provides for data storage in the remote centres. The High-Luminosity LHC is estimated to exceed this level every year.

    “This in itself will be a challenge for both CERN and SKA given the step change in the amounts of data we will have to handle in the next 5-10 years”, explains Miles Deegan, High-Performance Computing Specialist for the SKA. “Transferring an average dataset will take days on the SKA’s ultra-fast fibre optic networks, which are 300 times faster than your average broadband connection, so storing or even downloading this data at home or even at your local university is clearly impractical.”

    As is already the case at CERN, SKA data will also be analysed by scientific collaborations distributed across the planet. There will be common computational and storage resource needs by both institutions and their respective researchers, with a shared challenge of taking this volume of data and turning them into science that can be published, understood, explained, reproduced, preserved and presented.

    “Processing such volumes of complex data to extract useful science is an exciting challenge that we face”, adds Antonio Chrysostomou, Head of Science Operations Planning for the SKA. “Our aim is to provide that processing capability through an alliance of regional centres located across the world in SKA member countries. Using cloud-based solutions, our scientific community will have access to the equivalent of today’s 35 biggest supercomputers to do the intensive processing needed to extract scientific results. In short, we need to fundamentally change how science is done.”

    “CERN has proposed the concept of the Federated Open Science Cloud with other EIROForum members. This agreement is an important step in this direction.” said Ian Bird, responsible at CERN for the World-wide LHC Computing Grid. “Essentially, we will provide a giant cloud-based, Dropbox-like, facility to science users around the world, where they will be able to not only access incredibly large files, but will also be able to do extremely intensive processing on those files to extract the science.”

    As part of the agreement, CERN and SKA will hold regular meetings to monitor progress and discuss the strategic direction of their collaboration. They will organise collaborative workshops on specific technical areas of mutual interest and propose demonstrator projects or prototypes to investigate concepts for managing and analysing Exascale data sets in a globally distributed environment. The agreement also includes the exchange of experts in the field of Big Data as well as joint publications.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II


    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    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.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:22 pm on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , SKA, SKA Organisation and the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory team up to develop next-generation astronomy data reduction software   

    From SKA and NRAO: “SKA Organisation and the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory team up to develop next-generation astronomy data reduction software” 

    SKA

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    11.9.17

    1
    Prof. Philip Diamond, SKA Director-General, and Dr. Tony Beasley, Director of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory, signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations on CASA workpackage collaboration.

    On the occasion of the 25th meeting of the SKA Board of Directors, SKA Organisation and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the US National Science Foundation facility operating telescopes in the United States and South America, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the design and development of new data models to address the data processing requirements of their next-generation telescopes. The Memorandum establishes an agreement for collaborative and continued development work on the Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA) software package, initially developed by NRAO and partners in the early 1990s. CASA is the leading package for radio astronomy data reduction around the world and is used currently for the international Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) and the NRAO Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA) telescopes, amongst other facilities. Both ALMA and JVLA are presently the largest telescopes of their kind in the world, respectively observing in millimetre/sub-millimetre and radio wavelengths.

    “Next-generation radio telescopes such as the SKA will have extreme processing requirements and CASA doesn’t currently have the capabilities to handle such large bandwidths and Field of View datasets that will be produced by these telescopes”, says Prof Philip Diamond, SKA Organisation Director General. “The collaboration we are formalising today with a renowned institution such as NRAO is very much welcome and will enable extensive collaborative work to update the CASA core data models for it to become scalable to the needs of our worldwide community.”

    “We are pleased to work with our SKA colleagues to extend the CASA framework to support several future radio telescopes”, says Dr. Tony Beasley, Director of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “We are building upon the investment made by the global astronomy community in CASA over the past two decades, enabling new science and instrumental capabilities.”

    This overhaul of the CASA software will be necessary for a new era of astronomy, which will not only benefit the next-generation telescopes, but also the radio astronomy world as a whole, who would be able to use the updated CASA software to better improve the data processing needs of their observatories, which can process both interferometric and single dish data.

    See the full article here .

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    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)*.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    NRAO VLBA

    NRAO VLBA

    *The Very Long Baseline Array


    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    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.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:34 pm on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , In the next few decades pulsars and black holes will be some of most important focal points in astrophysics research, KAT-7 and MeerKAT telescopes, Looking ahead to the Square Kilometer Array, Physicists will either pin down more accurate descriptions of the Strong Equivalence Principle (SEP) and alternative theories of gravity or may find they need to scrap these theories entirely, Pulsar emissions and gravitational waves have been telling us interesting things about the universe, , SKA, , , The SKA will be far more powerful and versatile than any telescopes before it, The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) an international partnership mainly supported by 10 countries is an interconnected web of telescopes being built in South Africa Western Australia and a number of Afri   

    From astronomy.com: “Looking ahead to the Square Kilometer Array” 

    Astronomy magazine

    astronomy.com

    November 06, 2017
    Tyler Krueger

    This web of telescopes will help astronomers unlock the mystery behind black holes, pulsars, and more.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    1
    Composite image bringing together the two SKA sites under a shared sky. Pictured here are some of the SKA precursor telescopes, South Africa’s KAT-7 and MeerKAT telescopes on the left and Australia’s ASKAP telescope on the right. SKA Organisation

    In the next few decades, pulsars and black holes will be some of most important focal points in astrophysics research. Researchers are working to build extremely powerful telescopes that aim to study pulsars and, if they are lucky, supermassive black holes found at the center of galaxies. The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), an international partnership mainly supported by 10 countries, is an interconnected web of telescopes being built in South Africa, Western Australia, and a number of African countries that will study these objects to test theories of gravity and the theory of general relativity.

    Pulsar emissions and gravitational waves have been telling us interesting things about the universe, and upcoming research is likely to bring improved and exciting insights. The SKA will be far more powerful and versatile than any telescopes before it, allowing for a diverse range of in-depth research.

    “What excites me is the finding of the unexpected,” SKA Science Director Robert Braun said. “You’ll be looking for one phenomenon, and you come away finding something completely unpredicted.”

    2
    Aerial view of the SKA dishes and MeerKAT dishes in South Africa. SKA Organisation

    The Relationship Between Pulsars and Gravitational Waves

    Pulsars are excellent timekeepers. As pulsars rotate on their axis, for a few milliseconds the radio waves they emit are shot directly at Earth, where researchers can record and analyze them. They rotate very consistently, so researchers can use them as precise clocks for experiments.

    The consistency of pulsars also makes them a reliable way to study gravitational waves. Gravitational waves warp space-time so that anything in their path is warped itself. If a gravitational wave from a pair of supermassive black holes orbiting each other were to propagate through the space between a pulsar and our planet, researchers would be able to detect a slight delay in the radio signal received, as space would be physically distorted. The SKA telescope will be able to use pulsars to detect gravitational waves from distant supermassive black holes binaries in more precise ways that current telescopes.

    According to Alberto Sesana, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, a great challenge to searching for evidence of gravitational waves in pulsar radio emissions is separating the signals from the plethora of other sources of noise in the universe.

    “When it comes to gravitational wave detection, the hardest part is that we do not understand the intrinsic noise of pulsars very well.” Sesana said. “This is a problem, because detecting a signal means to single it out from noise and if you don’t know what your noise does, it becomes difficult to identify the signal.”

    It’s a bit like being at a concert with your eyes closed and trying to decipher which speaker is playing the bass guitar.

    3
    Close-up of the SKA’s low frequency aperture arrays and ASKAP dishes in Australia. SKA Organisation

    The telescopes currently in use are not sensitive enough to study these variations closely enough. The SKA telescope will provide more powerful instruments capable of higher precision than those before it and will help researchers study celestial bodies more accurately.

    Tests of General Relativity

    Until the first gravitational wave signal detected by LIGO, pairings of neutron stars were the best test of general relativity. According to the theory, the emission of gravitational waves as the stars rotate around each other causes the distance between the two neutron stars to shrink. This in turn shrinks the amount of time it takes the stars to orbit each other, and affects the timing of the pulsars. Studying these timing changes closely will allow researchers to pinpoint the rate of shrinkage in a concrete manner and compare it to what the theory of general relativity says will happen.

    PSR J0737-3039, a system of two neutron star pulsars orbiting each other, has so far been the best test of this principle. The observed rates of shrinking have agreed with (to within half of a percent) general relativity, but in typical science fashion, this is still not enough evidence to confirm existing theories.

    In future studies, SKA telescopes plan to find more binary systems like this, which will help build a stronger body of evidence for or against our current theory of general relativity.

    “With better telescopes and algorithms, we can find more pulsars, and among them, more exotic objects, like double neutron star binaries, which will help constrain general relativity, and pulsar – white dwarf binaries, which will help constrain alternative theories of gravity,” said Delphine Perrodin, a researcher at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF).

    Alternative Theories of Gravity

    Pulsar-white dwarf systems can similarly test alternative theories of gravity. PSR J0337+1715 is a great example of this type of system. For the visual learners, here’s a short video describing this system:

    This is an important area of study because general relativity is not yet a completely sound theory. The theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics have been studied extensively, but physicists still cannot reconcile them with each other.

    The PSR J0337+1715 system has interested physicists since its discovery in 2007. Two white dwarfs orbit the pulsar – one very closely and one from far away. This system is fascinating because the outer white dwarf’s gravitational field accelerates the orbits of the inner pair at a much faster rate than predicted by current theories. With more sensitive telescopes, researchers aim to find more systems like this to study to more fully understand, among other things, the Strong Equivalence Principle (SEP). SEP states that the laws of gravity are not affected by velocity and location, but the way the PSR J0337+1715 system behaves, it appears that there is something beyond our understanding to be discovered. The SKA telescope will be able to more precisely study this supposed violation.

    Whatever conclusions come from it, physicists will either pin down more accurate descriptions of the SEP and alternative theories of gravity, or may find they need to scrap these theories entirely.

    The Future of Astrophysics

    SKA will practically revolutionize the study of astrophysics, and will even contribute to other fields of physics. With such a wide range of capability, SKA will advance theories of dark matter and dark energy, learn about galaxy formation in the early and local universe, and hopefully accurately locate the first recognized pair of supermassive black holes. Researchers hope to use the SKA to formulate a “movie” of the early universe’s progression to its current state by studying hydrogen recombination after the Big Bang.

    “If we can overcome the instrumental challenges, we’ll be able to see that ‘cosmic dawn,’ the first moments of time in which the universe starts to become ionized and watch as that ionization progresses,” Braun said.

    According to Sesana, the holy grail of this research would be to find interesting objects that are closer and easier to study.

    “Another ideal outcome will be to find, possibly – and this would be a dream – a pulsar closely orbiting the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way center. This will allow the testing of general relativity like in the pulsar-black hole case, but to an even greater precision.”

    3
    SKA Organisation

    With regard to the recent announcement of gravitational waves, gamma ways, and more from a pair of merging neutron stars, the SKA “will work in tandem with multi-messenger facilities to both alert other facilities to discoveries made by the SKA, and to react to discoveries made by LIGO, Virgo, etc.,” said a representative from the project. “The SKA’s reaction time will be about 30 seconds, meaning we can jump onto signals as soon as they are discovered by the electromagnetic, gravitational wave or neutrino signals. Additionally, the SKA will provide a deluge of new and exciting electromagnetic transient discoveries, which it will broadcast to other facilities for these to complement the observations, the aim being to achieve a full multi-messenger understanding of the new discovery space that SKA will open.”

    Exciting Discoveries Ahead

    The potential to discover groundbreaking phenomena in the universe is awe-inspiring to say the least. Some questions will be answered, but many more questions will be raised.

    4
    Artist’s composition of the entire SKA1 array, with SKA dishes and MeerKAT dishes in Africa and low frequency aperture arrays and ASKAP dishes in Australia. SKA Organisation

    “Nature is so inventive,” Braun said. “If you look with new capabilities, you find the most amazing, unexpected things that you never could have predicted. Nature just has so much more imagination than people do.”

    The overarching SKA project hopes to see an intergovernmental treaty signed in 2018, and should begin its five-year construction in 2019 or 2020. Braun says that the South African MeerKAT radio telescope, which is a precursor project that will be integrated into the SKA, is nearing completion and expects to be functioning in April 2018. Other first-class science precursor facilities located such as ASKAP and the MWA radio telescopes in Australia are already paving the way for SKA, as well as a number of smaller facilities around the world

    The wait seems long, but for astronomy fans, it’s going to be well worth it.

    See the full article here .

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