Australia and New Zealand will now host a significant part of the largest astronomical facility of the 21st century. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be constructed by an international consortium of more than 10 countries in the period 2016 – 2024 at a capital cost of over $2 Billion.
The operational lifetime of the facility will be more than 50 years, involving an expenditure of $10 Billion and employing several hundred scientist and engineers around the world. The SKA will answer some of the most fundamental questions we have of the Universe and it will involve the development and deployment of the world’s largest computer and data management system. To date, the Australian and New Zealand communities have invested more than $400 million in Western Australia to establish the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory, pathfinder telescopes, fibre optic network infrastructure, supercomputers and a new international research centre.
The SKA is exciting the world. It is not just a scientific instrument which is 10,000 times more capable than its predecessors, but also an information producer that will drive the development of computing and data systems world-wide. The SKA will produce more data in one day than all of humanity produces in one year.
In this special lecture Professor Quinn reviewed the current status of the international SKA effort following the announcement of the site decision in May this year that saw the project shared between Southern Africa and Australia/NZ. He outlined some of the amazing scientific and technological challenges and opportunities before us in WA as we ramp up to explore the Universe to a depth that will revolutionize our understanding of space and time.
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