Square Kilometre Array
MBIE is leading New Zealand’s involvement with the international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.
What is the Square Kilometre Array?
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is a global science and engineering project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. The radio telescope will be the largest scientific instrument on Earth, both in terms of physical scale and in terms of the volume of data it will generate.
The SKA will consist of thousands of dishes and aperture array telescopes, which will be co-sited in the deserts of Australia and South Africa. Combining radio signals from the different sources will enable the SKA to emulate a much larger telescope. The resulting radio telescope will be 50 times more sensitive than any existing instrument and will allow us to look ten times deeper into space.
New Zealand’s involvement
New Zealand is a founding member of the SKA Organisation, a not-for-profit company established in December 2011 to formalise relationships between the international partners and to centralise leadership.
Work is underway to negotiate a convention establishing the SKA as an international organisation, which will provide a better structure to support the project in future. New Zealand’s involvement in the SKA is led by MBIE.
While no SKA infrastructure will be located in New Zealand, we are centrally involved in developing technologies for the project.
Victoria University contributes to the Science Data Processor consortium, which is working on how to extract information from SKA data and how to determine the computing requirements needed to process the data. The ability to extract information from big data has many applications and undertaking this task will place us at the forefront of technological developments in this area.
The Auckland University of Technology is also conducting work for the SDP consortium, as well as the Central Signal Processor (CSP) consortium. The CSP converts signals from the different SKA receivers into information which the SDP can use to produce images of deep-space phenomena.
Involvement in the SKA brings potential benefits for New Zealand researchers, tertiary institutions and companies, including building expertise, international connections, and the possibility for involvement in any spin-off technologies and opportunities.