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Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

Topic covered:

Awareness in space.

 

Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: SKA – objectives and key features.

 

Context: Scientists at Cambridge have finished designing the ‘brain’ of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest radio telescope.

 

Key facts:

  • It consists of a supercomputer that will process the enormous amounts of data produced by the SKA’s telescopes.
  • The total compute power will be around 250 PFlops — that’s 25 per cent faster than IBM’s Summit, the current fastest supercomputer in the world.

 

Significance:

When complete, the SKA will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence.

 

The SKA Project:

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area.

Objectives: The SKA will eventually use thousands of dishes and up to a million low-frequency antennas that will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence.

Significance: Its unique configuration will give the SKA unrivalled scope in observations, largely exceeding the image resolution quality of the Hubble Space Telescope. It will also have the ability to image huge areas of sky in parallel a feat which no survey telescope has ever achieved on this scale with this level of sensitivity.

Whilst 10 member countries are the cornerstone of the SKA, around 100 organisations across about 20 countries are participating in the design and development of the SKA.

Location: Thousands of SKA antenna dishes will be built in South Africa (in the Karoo), with outstations in other parts of South Africa, as well as in eight African partner countries, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Another part of the telescope, the low-frequency array, will be built in Western Australia.

Sources: the Hindu.