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Indian Scientists Build ‘Nervous System’ of World’s Largest Radio Telescope, the SKA!

The SKA will be located in two continents–Africa and Australia–and will be run by the finest scientists and engineers of our time.

In September of 1993, there were efforts to build a large telescope with worldwide efforts to answer a few of the fundamental questions of the universe.

In 2000, a MoU was signed between 11 core countries to merge and develop one of the largest satellites in the world. Initial planning and works began, but it was not until 2011 that the efforts bore fruit.

The SKA organisation, which stands for the Square Kilometre Array took responsibility to develop the world’s largest radio telescope with its initial phase costing about 650 Million Euros.

The SKA will be located in two continents–Africa and Australia–and will be run by the finest scientists and engineers of our time.

An Artist’s rendition of SKA in night. Source: SKA website

The SKA will combine a host of different antenna technologies to map the sky hundreds of times faster than today’s best radio astronomy facilities. For that, it would require very high-performance central computing engines and long-haul links with a capacity greater than the 2013 global Internet traffic.

For the magnificent SKA, a team of Indian scientists — led by National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) have designed one of its crucial components– the Telescope Manager (TM).

Said to be the nervous system of the telescope, the team managed to finish the module before 12 other international engineering teams working at SKA.

Mapping the space with radio waves is no easy task. Consisting of thousands of antennae spread over several thousand kilometres, the device would simulate a humongous telescope capable of extremely high sensitivity and resolution.

The telescope manager will have to control, monitor and operate the SKA telescopes.

SKA telescopes which are already in place. Source: SKA Website.`

After four and a half years, the international Telescope Manager (TM) consortium led by NCRA formally concluded its work on the architectural design of a fundamental part of the software.

TM Consortium Lead Professor Yashwant Gupta from NCRA said to the SKA website, “We can all take pride in the fact that we’ve successfully designed the software that will operate the world’s largest radio telescope. I would like to sincerely thank all the members of our international team for their hard work over the past few years that made it possible to achieve this important milestone.”

Phase 1 will end in 2020, and once it starts operations, the data that will be collected would read out features of the universe billions of light years away!

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)


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