Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


AUT scientists to play key role in huge astronomy project

AUT scientists to play key role in huge astronomy project

One of the largest and most ambitious scientific projects in history – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project has entered its crucial design phase with scientists and engineers from AUT playing a pivotal role, supported by $983,000 of government co-funding.

This funding was provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

What is the SKA project?
The SKA will consist of thousands of dishes and literally millions of dipole radio receptors, with an effective collecting area of a square kilometre, making it 100 times as sensitive as the biggest present-day telescopes and image resolution quality 50 times that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The The SKA telescope will be co-located in Australia and in Africa.

The design phase
The international SKA organisation, a partnership of 11 countries, recently announced the experts leading the design packages.

AUT University will lead an international team from seven countries in the design phase of the project.

This includes scientists from ASTRON (Netherlands), CSIRO (Australia), INAF (Italy), Jet Propulsion Lab (NASA, US), KLAASA/ CETC-38 (China), National Research Council Canada, University of Oxford, STFC Rutherford Appleton lab (UK), Massey University, the University of Auckland, and Compucon NZ Ltd.

The work to be done on big data, high performance computing, green computing, modelling, algorithms and data processing will place New Zealand researchers at the forefront of global developments in these areas, which will yield a range of economic dividends.

AUT’s involvement
AUT’s Dr Andrew Ensor is leading the design of the Survey Correlator, which will combine the signals from all the receivers. The data volumes and computational requirements will be enormous – ten times that of the world’s fastest supercomputers today – and will require new high-performance computing and low-power technologies.

“The Survey Correlator represents New Zealand’s most substantive contribution, in terms of personnel and international collaboration, in the SKA project. It is also the largest area in which New Zealand will be taking a lead role,” Dr Ensor says.

AUT will also be contributing to the other major computing challenges posed by the SKA, as well as leading the modelling and some of the prototyping. *

AUT’s Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research, Sergei Gulyaev says that after almost a decade’s involvement with the SKA, he is incredibly excited about the beginning of the SKA design phase.

“The potential spinoffs from our SKA involvement are substantial, with benefits for cloud computing and data centres, computer graphics rendering and complex-scene motion capture, green computing, network communication and monitoring, improved radar and surveillance, and high-throughput data analysis such as environmental sensors.

“The Survey Correlator work closely aligns with the National Science Challenge, ‘Science for Technological Innovation’ and will help attract students into ICT and related technology fields. We appreciate the Government’s recognition of the project’s value.”

Oamaru-based software company, Open Parallel is also involved in two areas of the SKA, supported by AUT staff.

MBIE has also confirmed funding for a Victoria University-led group, for its involvement in the Science Analysis Pipeline Requirements.

*The University will also be involved with the design of the Science Data Processor (SDP). This consortium will focus on the design of the computing hardware platforms, software, and algorithms needed to process science data from the correlator or non-imaging processor into science data products.

More on the SKA project
The announcement of the design teams
The National Science Challenges


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Oceans: NOAA Declares Third Ever Global Coral Bleaching Event

As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the Caribbean and may last into the new year, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record. More>>

Scoop Business: A Decade Of Government Pre-Seed Investment

More publicly-funded science is being commercialised after a decade of government ‘pre-see’d investment, according to an independent review. More>>


Solid Energy: Plan To Shut Unprofitable Huntly East Mine

Solid Energy, the state-owned coal miner in voluntary administration, plans to shut down its unprofitable Huntly East mine and lay off 65 staff after deciding the site stands "no chance whatsoever" of finding a buyer. More>>


E Tū: Merger Creates NZ's Biggest Private Sector Union

E tū has been created by the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Service and Food Workers’ Union. It represents more than 50,000 working New Zealanders in industries as diverse as aviation, construction, journalism, food manufacturing, mining and cleaning. More>>


Internet: NZ Govt Lifts Target Speeds For Rural Broadband

The government has lifted its expectations on faster broadband speeds for rural New Zealand as it targets increased spending on research and development in the country's information and communications technology sector, which it sees as a key driver for export growth. More>>


Banks: Westpac Keeps Core Government Transactions Contract

The local arm of Westpac Banking Corp has kept its contract with the New Zealand government to provide core transactions, but will have to share peripheral services with its rivals. More>>


Science Investment Plan: Universities Welcome Statement

Universities New Zealand has welcomed the National Statement of Science Investment released by the Government today... this is a critical document as it sets out the Government’s ten-year strategic direction that will guide future investment in New Zealand’s science system. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news