Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Decision Time For SKA Telescope Bids

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-telescope-time dept.

Australia 45

angry tapir writes "An independent scientific committee will this week make a recommendation to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project's board of directors in London about whether the array's core should be based in Western Australia or South Africa. A further month of negotiations is likely before the countries are officially notified about whether they have won the $2.5 billion project. Once built, the SKA will be able to survey the sky 10,000 times faster than existing technology. Scientists hope the SKA will provide answers about how galaxies evolve, how the first black holes and stars were formed, and whether there is any other life in space. Cio.com.au has posted an interview with the head of Australia's bid for the project, Dr Brian Boyle."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Why should the West foot the bill ? (-1, Flamebait)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057131)

I mean, why should it be that the West always end up footing the bill ?

You do not see Japan or Korea or China or India paying for installation such as this, do you?

Re:Why should the West foot the bill ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057157)

According to the article linked (interview with Dr Brian Boyle), China is helping fund the SKA and India are involved with another project in Australia (the Murchison Widefield Array)...

Credit where credit is due!

Re:Why should the West foot the bill ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057299)

"China scientists lead world in research growth":
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7ef3097e-09da-11df-8b23-00144feabdc0.html

Jonathan Adams, research evaluation director at Thomson Reuters, said China's "awe-inspiring" growth had put it in second place to the US -- and if it continues on its trajectory it will be the largest producer of scientific knowledge by 2020.

Re:Why should the West foot the bill ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058477)

Why should anyone at all foot the bill? It isn't strictly speaking "necessary." But it's a noble endeavor. And if you can contribute to the effort, good for you. The fact that people still allocate resources to pure research at all is kind of redeeming, compared to the rest of the news.

Re:Why should the West foot the bill ? (3, Informative)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057431)

Because we're ridiculously rich here in west australia, frankly. The money that goes through this place from mining is mind boggling.

China makes a fair wad of cash too, but theres a billion or so people. Theres what, 2 million here in WA.

And anyway, science owns.

Re:Why should the West foot the bill ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057437)

Huh ? Regarding the money, spending generates economic value. Besides that, it provides labor and such a project would be a win for every country that ends up hosting it. And research in the long run can't have a price tag: we just need to go forward.

I picture you sitting on a massive chest full of money in an empty, locked house... strange eeh ?

http://kucobaberbagi.blogspot.com/ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057187)

Nice Info here, be the best!

sex with a m48e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057223)

first we heard of it (2)

nri (149893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057289)

read this a few mins before reading /.

http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australia-in-battle-to-host-25b-telescope-20120216-1takw.html [theage.com.au]

this should be high priority.

we are bickering about a useless crap, but seriously, this one thin would be cool to have,

off topic, but love this movie , The Dish, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0205873/ [imdb.com] , especially the US anthem scene, sorry guys if you haven't seen it, no offence meant, just funny for us backward Australian citizens

Re:first we heard of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057369)

Great link (the first one), I absolutely love this quote:

"The scientists are against splitting the array," he said. "What the SKA can give us is unique sensitivity; 100-times or more than what we can currently get. But to do that you need all the collecting area in the one spot. As soon as you start dividing up the collecting area you lose sensitivity."

That's a new definition for "one spot": about a continent!

And yes, I'm a radioastronomer.

How the Square Kilometre Array telescope will work (5, Informative)

SpaghettiWestern (2575627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057339)

The Square Kilometre Array Telescope (SKA) will delve further into the Universe than ever before, produce more data about the cosmos than modern-day computers can handle, and shift the focus of radio astronomy from the 'dish' to silicon.

In essence, what we are seeing is the evolution of telescopes away from the concrete and steel that forms the antennas and into the world of supercomputing, says Professor Brian Boyle, CSIRO's SKA director.

"The supercomputer is as much a part of the telescope as is the antenna.
"In the 1960s you built really big dishes to take all the data, now you put all your effort into the silicon brains behind it," Boyle says.

An array telescope is composed of lots of different antennas connected to a supercomputer via a super-fast fibre optic network.
"So in the SKA's case we're talking 3000 antennas over a minimum distance of 3000 kilometres.
"All that data is transported from the SKA at speeds of 400 terabits per second across the continent — that's about ten times greater than global internet traffic today.
"Then it's processed by a super computer capable of doing one million, million, million operations per second — about one hundred times faster than the world's fastest super computer today," says Boyle.

Scientists hope that by delving deeper into space than ever before they will be able to investigate fundamental questions about the universe, such as the evolution of galaxies, dark energy and cosmic magnetism, and probe the earliest stars and black holes.

Source & further Info:
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/02/14/3430265.htm [abc.net.au]

What is the problem here? (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057367)

Isn't the main point for anyone astronomically and/or scientifically inclined
that the thing will be built?

Re:What is the problem here? (4, Insightful)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057605)

Yes and no.

Just as important as it being built, is that there are sufficient protocols and resources in place to ensure that: a) It continues to operate for a long period of time and b) The information transmitted can be quickly and efficiently analysed and distributed.

The South African bid consists of the telescope scattered across several countries, all of them far less politically stable than Australia and New Zealand, an issue which could potentially cause problems later. In addition, Australia and New Zealand are both well-industrialised, providing both a strong economic base to support the program, and also reducing the likelihood that 10 years from now there will be a massive centre of EM interference next to some of the dishes.

While I'd prefer the South African bid to none at all, I think that the Aus/NZ bid is the better option. And I'm hoping the judges don't vote against it simply as a political manoeuvre. Having said that, I'm both West Australian and Not-An-Astronomer, so I am biased, and also not fully informed of any scientific advantages/disadvantages to the bids.

Re:What is the problem here? (2)

Iron Sun (227218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058403)

A friend of mine who works with the Australian bid says that there is a lot of talk about the European partners indulging in a lot of colonial guilt apologetics and seeing a fair bit of posturing to be had from handing such a big futuristic project to Africa. China will also be horse trading for all they're worth. As with all political decisions, the logically best option may not be the most politically juicy one.

Re:What is the problem here? (1)

Occams (2422082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071327)

There is a hidden cost to the country that hosts this beast. That is the need to maintain a radio frequency quiet zone across a huge area of the country. Unwanted radio noise will reduce the effectiveness of the SKA and will require more computing power. This quiet zone will inevitably deny services in the future to Australians who live in remote areas. There are very few places in the world where this would be tolerable, and I am not at all certain that Australia is one of them. If the full implications of this were know to all, there might be an adverse reaction. If it is true now, then how long will it remain so. It might have been better to put this thing in Antarctica. Mobile phones, terrestrial broadcasting, broadband internet, marine and air traffic can be controlled in the Australian SKA zones but existing satellite footprints will remain and future ones might be needed to provide economic services in the vast Outback. This will require a highly organized, strong, and effective radio spectrum regulator. Australia has one of those, responsible for the entire continent, in the ACMA (NZL has a good one too). Africa would be an entirely different story - for obvious reasons. Disclosure: I am an Australian, and also a former spectrum manager of the regulator.

Re:What is the problem here? (1)

jemmyw (624065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057707)

There was an interview with an Auckland professor this morning (I live in Wellington NZ). One interesting aspect to placing it in AUS/NZ is using it to measure tectonic plate movements using stable quasars. Obviously we get a fair amount of movement here, I don't know about South Africa.

Location, location, location (3, Interesting)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057383)

Why is this thing not located near the equator, or alternatively perhaps with northern and southern hemisphere arrays?

Re:Location, location, location (5, Informative)

lawrencebillson (1136239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057443)

The location in WA is pretty damn close to the tropic. The SKA guys have a pretty concise list of site requirements (See http://www.skatelescope.org/the-sites/ [skatelescope.org] ) - officially they care about noise floor, ionosphere/troposphere, climate, comms, costs, long term prospects of the noise floor. If I were selecting the site I'd care more about a location being politically stable.

Re:Location, location, location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058293)

If I were selecting the site I'd care more about a location being politically stable.

I would also go for a richer country. In Africa I would expect lots of trouble with metal thieves, especially at the antennas north of Southafrica.

Re:Location, location, location (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057451)

The main thing outback australia has going for it, is its remoteness and clear weather. Put it out far enough, and the EM pollution will be tiny, and the weather in the outback is really quite dry and still.

Its perfect for astronomy. Its probably the same in south africa too, they have fairly similar weather to us.

Re:Location, location, location (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057585)

Quite. The site here in South Africa has pretty much nothing in it, not even animals live there, much less people.

Re:Location, location, location (1)

eugene_roux (76055) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057659)

Oi! That's not quite fair! I'm fairly certain it's got snakes and sheep in it! It is in the Karoo, after all...

Mind you. doesn't sound all that different from Aussie Outback, does it?

Re:Location, location, location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39071597)

No kangaroos.

Re:Location, location, location (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057457)

All of Western Australia is below the equator and a good chunk of it is below the Tropic of Capricorn (roughly 23 degrees south). The SKA is proposed for near Geraldton which is about 28 degrees south. Last time I looked the equator ran through Kenya (Nanyuki for example) and South Africa was actually to the south. The best view of our galaxy is from the Southern Hemisphere - the so called Milky way. Additionally if you want a radio-quiet place, the Southern Hemisphere is a no-brainer - Australia, South America or South Africa. A SKA in the Northern Hemisphere would be an effing disaster radio-wise. Hence the decision to place the SKA south of the equator has been thought through carefully by minds much cleverer than mine - and yours.

Going North (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057531)

Well there is the Very Large Array in the US, which could perhaps be used as a baseline.
One would also have thought that areas of Montana/Dakota or somewhere in Canada (Manitoba?) would provide a good area with low population density for the central core

Re:Going North (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058449)

Well there is the Very Large Array in the US, which could perhaps be used as a baseline.

They also want a southern hemisphere telescope because there's lots to see in the southern sky that the VLA just can't spot.

Re:Location, location, location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057785)

Equatorial electrojet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equatorial_electrojet

disrupts the ionosphere, distorting signal phase

Re:Location, location, location (1)

sjwt (161428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058113)

Because the majority of the universe is ''bellow'' us, ie to the south, by looking 'down' you will be able to study much more then by placing it at the equator or in the northern hemisphere.

Re:Location, location, location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058695)

That statement is entirely nonsensical. Replace "universe" with "galaxy" and you'll be doing a bit better, but you should be aware that these are very different concepts.

Re:Location, location, location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058705)

The most appalling thing about your post is that it made me realize I can't quite visualize what part of the sky you miss at a particular latitude. Thanks.

Re:Location, location, location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39066285)

Here are a few reasons:

  • Most of the Milky Way, including the Galactic Centre, is in the southern sky.
  • There aren't any good equatorial sites. Certainly not as politically-stable and radio-quiet as the Australian desert.
  • At low frequencies, the ionosphere interferes with the radio waves, and the ionosphere is more active at the equator.
  • At high frequencies, atmospheric moisture interferes with the radio waves, and the tropics have a lot of rain.

Not SA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057481)

Long term, South Africa would be too unstable.

Good reasons for Western Australia (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057641)

South Africa may sooner or later glide off into a civil war.

Re:Good reasons for Western Australia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057723)

That's just FUD.

Re:Good reasons for Western Australia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058339)

I was born in SA, worked overseas for a few years and am now back in SA.

While I understand why people think this, I've heard about how the blood is going to flow through the streets my whole life - literally. In typical South African style, we like to whine about how the place is going down hill, it is almost like we wish for it. Perhaps we are bored? In my life the country has gone through at least 2 major changes. Still no civil war.

Our murder rate is higher than that in some civil wars. But that is not the same as civil war. Our infrastructure should be a whole lot better, but it isn't really that bad. Our non-murder crime rate is ridiculous and the government is lazy. But there is still some wisdom in government and other political entities and all of them want to see the country work.

I honestly don't see how SA is going to slide into civil war. There are very few parallels between SA and the old Soviet republics that people like to compare SA to.

Also keep in mind that Australia has a growing racial/emigration problem. In Australia nowadays illegal immigrants get stuck into dodgy camps that even the old SA apartheid regime would have thought twice about doing. Now they won't dare. In Australia it is no problem. Can you honestly tell me that you are even 80% sure that these problems are not going to come to a head in Australia in the next 50 years?

The future is always uncertain.

I hope SA gets it. But my main hope is that wherever they build it, they do it properly and don't compromise on engineering and science return because of political horse trading. I would rather Australia gets it than that it gets chopped up into three parts - that would be stupid in so many ways that we'll be here the whole day if I get started on that.

In the end SA will still be involved, together with a large group of other countries. And that will be cool.

Re:Good reasons for Western Australia (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39068201)

Also keep in mind that Australia has a growing racial/emigration problem. In Australia nowadays illegal immigrants get stuck into dodgy camps that even the old SA apartheid regime would have thought twice about doing. Now they won't dare. In Australia it is no problem. Can you honestly tell me that you are even 80% sure that these problems are not going to come to a head in Australia in the next 50 years?

I think you mean immigration not emigration. There are far more people coming to Australia each year than leaving it and Australians don't seem to have any trouble with people leaving the country. As an Australian even if I take overseas citizenship, I can still come back to Australia anytime on a special visa and renew my Australian citizenship if I want. We don't really have a great problem with people coming to Australia either. Immigration to Australia is pretty easy and it's one of the few places on earth where if you take citizenship you really will be accepted as a citizen.

While the placement of "illegal immigrants" (AKA. People who attempt to immigrate by arriving in Australia in a boat) in detention centres while their asylum claims are processed is troublesome, it hardly compares to the apartheid. There's no doubt racism in Australia, sometimes it manifests it self in ugly forms but by world standards it's quite an open and accepting nation and the racism that is there is quite isolated. While I can't be 100% certain that there won't be a civil war in Australia in the next 50 years, I can be 99.99999% certain. I've lived overseas a fair bit and I'd say Australia is about one of the least likely countries on earth to have a civil war. It has a low crime rate. It's very wealthy. It's a comparatively very open society and has very little ethnic tension.

Re:Good reasons for Western Australia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058433)

Oi! I resent that! W.A. has a long history of wanting to seceed from the barbarian East, so we demand to have the right to slide off into civil war, too!

Re:Good reasons for Western Australia (1)

Occams (2422082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071359)

Don't forget the wonderful beach in WA. It has about 3000 miles of coastline, and another 3000 miles of red sand between the Indian Ocean and civilization.

Not only Western Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057695)

Although the sites are intended to be more concentrated in Western Australia, there would be sites across the length of Australia and New Zealand, which is a much vaster area than just Western Australia.

They are saying this a 50 year project. I hope this doesn't go to Africa because of the political instability and crime problem in the region. But I think it will because of politics. The four voting countries are China, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. China will almost certainly vote for South Africa and the UK will probably vote for Australasia.

Who's the front runner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057725)

Is either site the obvious choice? Have there been any initial scores or any similar information released previously?

Re:Who's the front runner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058907)

You'd have to say Australia/NZ is the obvious choice.

More politically stable, more likely to attract skilled labour, better infrastructure, less likely to have radio interference in the future.

But it's almost certainly going to go to Africa for political reasons.

SKA Telescope you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39059679)

They can use my mirror in the bathroom [youtube.com] .

Just Ska? (1)

jamvger (2526832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39060015)

I want me some Reggae Telescope!

Re:Just Ska? (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39060329)

I wondered what all the suedeheads had been up to since the 70s.

110 people at 71km away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39061529)

A napkin calculation from Boyle comments...

In a radius of about 120km there are 110 people - dose this mean that there are 110 people running the mines in the band between 70km-120km ... or are those 110 people the permanent residents in the 50000km^2 ?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?