On a former cattle farm in the remote outback, scientists are laying the ground for the biggest science project of the next 20 years: a radio telescope capable of picking out something like an airport radar on a planet in another solar system. The The Square Kilometer Array. guardian
The spiders (there are 2,048 of them) are simple because “the smarts are in the back end”, Jackson says. They are controlled by a consortium of scientists from several international universities, led by Curtin university, and are already providing a lot of data on the very earliest days of the universe, the first billion years, the “unexplored epoch”. The data is helping the teams prepare for SKA.
The spiders also allow scientists to test the development of the other key array here: the Christmas trees. These are, to the amateur eye, a bit of a sorry-looking bunch. There is only one small clump of them.
But sorry-looking or not, these are the future of radio astronomy. Tweaked and retweaked (currently they wobble in the wind, which is not ideal), they will in some future form be the radio antennas for the SKA project.
Soon these Christmas trees will spread and spread across this land into a great metal forest – and change our understanding of the universe.
The Murchison Widefield Array: The SKA Low Frequency Precursor. site
Telescope antennas are supported by a complete system of ‘behind the scenes’ technologies including supercomputers, communications technologies and electricity generation technologies. site