The SKA is GO!

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Message 2067790 - Posted: 6 Feb 2021, 23:35:22 UTC
Last modified: 6 Feb 2021, 23:35:49 UTC

{The} Square Kilometre Array: 'Lift-off' for world's biggest telescope
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One of the grand scientific projects of the 21st Century is 'Go!'.

The first council meeting of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory has actioned plans that will lead to the biggest telescope on Earth being assembled over the coming decade...

... The array's resolution and sensitivity, allied to prodigious computing support, will enable astronomers to address some of the most fundamental questions in astrophysics today:

How did the first stars come to shine in the Universe? What exactly is "dark energy" - the mysterious form of energy that appears to be driving the cosmos apart at an accelerating rate? And even the most basic question of all - are we alone? The SKA's unprecedented sensitivity would pick up any extra-terrestrial transmissions...


Keep searchin'!
Martin
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Message 2067832 - Posted: 7 Feb 2021, 18:13:10 UTC - in response to Message 2067790.  

Unfortunately, by the time they build it, the sky will be crowded with noisy mini satellites that make radioastronomy difficult. Maybe later in the century they'll build something similar on the dark side of the moon.
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Message 2067874 - Posted: 8 Feb 2021, 14:57:23 UTC - in response to Message 2067832.  

Unfortunately, by the time they build it, the sky will be crowded with noisy mini satellites that make radioastronomy difficult.

There is already interference from the satellites already up there, especially so for those in geosynchronous orbit that are in continuous operation at the same points around that one plane.

Hence by international agreement, (supposedly) the frequencies significant for astronomy are 'off limits' and are protected to be quiet. However, there is always the problem of poor design or compromised design...

For the newly increasing swarms of internet satellites (StarLink, OneWeb, Amazon whatever, Iridium, Inmarsat, multiple GNSS,) there is supposedly some cooperation with astronomers to minimize interference.

Note that we operate microwave ovens (very high power radios!) and other widely used radio systems in the "water hole" range of frequencies... Hence the need for remote radio quiet areas for radio telescopes. Note the restrictions for the electronic gadgets for anyone living near the Greenbank radio telescope for example.


Maybe later in the century they'll build something similar on the dark side of the moon.

The far side of the moon is a very difficult environment. A swarm of expendable satellites at a Lagrange point operating as a phased array could be a better bet.

Or as we are doing at present, developing phased arrays of telescopes across the width of our entire earth (eg Merlin, SKA,) and earthly orbit (eg Event Horizon).


Keep searchin'!
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Message 2067891 - Posted: 8 Feb 2021, 19:26:05 UTC - in response to Message 2067832.  

Unfortunately, by the time they build it, the sky will be crowded with noisy mini satellites that make radioastronomy difficult...

That gets a mention in this article about the newly agreed SKA:


Square Kilometre Array Observatory has a council now, so building super-sensitive €1.3bn telescope is next on agenda
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The long-awaited Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) has continued its march to reality...

... Getting to this point has taken more than a decade of engineering design work and is a full 30 years since the concept of a next-generation radio telescope was floated.

The challenge straddles nations. Almost 200 15-metre dishes are planned for the Karoo region in South Africa (64 already exist) and Australia will play host to 131,072 two-metre-tall antennas. The project is headquartered at the UK's Jodrell Bank site in Cheshire...

... Things have also changed during the design phase, not least the determination of billionaires to spray the sky with satellites. A preliminary analysis of the affect on observations by mega constellations such as Elon Musk's Starlink was undertaken last year and confirmed that some tweaking was needed. The study looked at the South African telescope and noted: "Without specific mitigation actions by the constellation operators, there is likely to be an impact on all astronomical observations in Band 5b."...

... The issue is the frequency range used by the satellite industry, which is the same observed by Band 5b receivers. A relatively small number of visible satellites at fixed positions, thanks to geo-stationary orbits, can be handled. [However,] "The deployment of thousands of satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) will inevitably 'change the situation'..."



And we thought the unwanted radar reflections hitting Arecibo from the one local airport were ' badly distracting'...


Keep searchin',
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Message 2097636 - Posted: 12 Apr 2022, 20:24:46 UTC

The latest update.

UK is to build 'brain' of world's biggest radio telescope.

The UK will build the 'brain' of the world's largest radio telescope, which is set to explore the evolution of the early Universe when it becomes operational by the end of the decade.

More than £15million has been awarded to a group of British institutions to help them create the prototype software that will control the UK-headquartered Square Kilometre Array (SKA) observatory.

The telescope is one of the grand scientific projects of the 21st Century and will initially comprise 197 dishes and 130,000 antennas spread across South Africa and Australia.

These will all have to be linked, with the 'brain' software helping them work together.

It will tell the telescopes where to look and when, diagnosing any issues and translating the telescope signals into useable data from which discoveries can be made.

To begin with a trial will be carried out on a small scale before the software is rolled out across the entire network if it is successful.

SKA will join a number of other next-generation telescopes due to become operational later this decade, including NASA's $10 billion (£7.4 billion) James Webb Space Telescope and the super-sized European Extremely Large Telescope.

It is set to explore the evolution of the early Universe and delve into the role of some the earliest processes in fashioning galaxies like our own Milky Way, among many other science goals.

The UK has already played a vital role in the software for the telescopes during the design phase, and is now set to continue leading this area as the telescopes are constructed.

Science Minister George Freeman said: 'It is no surprise that the UK's outstanding scientists are playing such a vital role in shaping the future of this cutting-edge global observatory, backed by £15 million government funding.....
Cheers.
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