Aussies stake claim for SKA space telescope

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Aussies stake claim for SKA space telescope

Researchers have transmitted astronomy data from the east to west coast of Australia at high-speed but will need to achieve a “several hundred” factor improvement in speed to win a major astronomy deal.

The demonstration, hosted last night by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), was designed to strengthen Australia's bid as the location for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

SKA is said to be one of the most ambitious international science projects ever devised.

It is planned to be a radio telescope with 10,000 times greater discovery potential than any of the world's existing telescopes.

Its observations "will help to answer fundamental questions about the evolution of the universe", ICRAC said.

The goal for the SKA is to be ready for initial observations by 2016 and fully built by 2020.

Australia and Southern Africa have so far been identified by the international astronomy community as suitable sites for the SKA.

Last night's demonstration involved the high-speed transfer of data from CSIRO and University of Tasmania radio telescopes on Australia's east coast via an AARNet trans-continental 10Gbps connection.

The data transfer was processed in real-time on a Perth-based computer cluster located at ICRAR's Curtin University of Technology node, using state-of-the-art software.

This demonstration is understood to have been the first time such high data-transfer speeds have been reached when transporting astronomic information from the east coast of Australia to the west.

"The transfer speeds achieved during last night's demonstration were close to 500 times faster than consumer broadband speeds," said Professor Steven Tingay, deputy director at ICRAR.

"The SKA will require an improvement multiplied by a factor of several hundred on this data transfer speed, to support the science goals of the SKA".

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