Radio telescope project on track
As readers know, a huge radio telescope is being installed near Murchison Settlement to detect the faint echoes that started when the universe began about 13.7 billion years ago.
The Square Kilometre Array or SKA is expected to boost the local economy and has already brought most of Geraldton powerful fibreto-the-home internet connections.
SKA Australia’s Canberrabased project director David Luchetti dropped in to The Midwest Times last week to explain how the project was progressing.
Mr Luchetti said Australia would have about a third of the $1 billion SKA to be shared in roughly equal proportions between three host countries during Phase 1 of the project.
He said Australia would host the “SKA Low” section, “SKA Mid” would be built in South Africa with the administration centre in Manchester UK, and eight other countries had an interest in the project.
“We have been negotiating a treaty called the SKA Observatory Convention,” Mr Luchetti said.
“We hope to sign the convention in late February and there’s a ratification period that needs to take place and we expect that would take roughly a year.
“Once we have five countries confirm their ratification, we establish the SKA observatory and it’s up and running.”
Mr Luchetti said construction was expected to start in late 2020 or early 2021.
“While we expect elements to be built in Australia there will be elements built overseas because partner countries in contributing money are expecting to get some kind of industrial return,” he said.
“The other thing we have been working on here in the Mid West and Western Australia is infrastructure for the site.
“That will be money literally ‘on the ground’. It will be roads, fibre, power and that will be a significant investment.”
Mr Luchetti said the “SKA Low”, or low-frequency aperture array, would occupy about four-tenths of a square kilometre as technicians added additional antennae to the existing Murchison Radio Observatory.
During SKA phase 1, 139,000 antennae were to be installed at the MRO.
The data they collect was to be processed at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth.