$7.6 Million for SKA Design Projects
The Australian Government has awarded $7.6 million to Australian organisations to support their work to design the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
The funding is being provided through the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda as part of the second round of the SKA Pre-construction Grants Program. It builds on $18.8 million provided in the first round of grants in 2013, and will allow for continued development of key components of the SKA. Once designed, construction of the SKA in Australia and South Africa is due to begin later this decade.
The SKA is expected to generate data at a rate equivalent to today’s global internet traffic. SKA pre-construction round 2 grants will help Australian organisations solve a number of challenges associated with processing, transporting and storing this unprecedented volume of data.
This second round of grants will also support development and testing of key infrastructure for the SKA site including telescope antennas capable of tuning in to the faintest radio signals from deep space; and special shielding to prevent radio emissions from escaping nearby buildings and interfering with these sensitive antennas.
Support for the development of technologies and capabilities, particularly in the high-demand area of data management is likely to benefit Australia’s IT industry.
The following applicants have been awarded funding in the second round of the SKA
Pre-construction Grants Program:
Curtin University has been awarded $1,485,140 for its major role in designing the SKA Low Frequency Aperture Array, the collecting element of the SKA-Low telescope. Curtin will deliver the on-site testing and verification program; design specialised infrastructure and processing systems and plan the deployment and commissioning of the LFAA antennas.
CSIRO has been awarded $1,353,514 to work with industry partner Aurecon Australia to make progress on design of the critical site infrastructure, including RFI (radio frequency interference) shielded buildings, for the SKA-Low telescope.
Swinburne University of Technology has been awarded $444,263 to design the pulsar timing engine for the SKA-Mid and SKA-low telescopes. The highly specialised hardware and software designed by the team will enable some of the highest impact science with the SKA, including observations of radio pulsars to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
CSIRO has been awarded $1,896,010 to lead an international team, involving ASTRON (The Netherlands) and Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand), to design the SKA Low telescope’s correlator and beam-former, nicknamed 'Perentie'. Perentie will be a highly specialised computer able to convert the deluge of data from the SKA-Low's thousands of antennas into a stream of useful data for downstream processing.
CSIRO has been awarded $454,800 to plan for the system level assembly, integration and verification (AIV) of the SKA-Low telescope in Australia. The AIV plan will be a critical element in the successful integration of the highly complex sub-systems that make up SKA-Low.
The University of Western Australia and CSIRO have been awarded $1,656,273 to design and verify a ‘Science Data Processing’ system for the SKA-Low telescope, working with a range of industry partners. The system will be a highly efficient supercomputer, an order of magnitude more capable than current systems, able to ingest 3.1 Terabytes of raw data and process observation involving 50 Petabytes of data.
AARNet Pty Ltd and CSIRO have been awarded $310,000 to design the data transport networks for the SKA Observatory in Australia and conduct vital performance testing to ensure the Australian elements of the SKA are effectively networked to the rest of the world.