Indian along with 9 other countries are developing world’s largest radio telescope — Square Kilometer Array (SKA) that will be 1 km in size and will be operate from two continents. Apart from being largest radio telescope, it will also be most sensitive radio ever built and it would detect a radar signal from a planet 50 light-years away.
India’s atomic energy secretary R.K. Sinha signed the deal with the SKA Organisation in the presence of its director-general Philip Diamond in Mumbai. The National Centre for Radio Astronomy (NCRA) will monitor all the designs related to SKA project in India. NCRA with the help of other institutes in India will design and develop the brain and nervous system to control the SKA observatory. Six other nations will also help in destining the brain of SKY but will under leadership of NCRA.
Apart from India, 9 other nations are working to together to build the most ambitious radio telescopes — Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and United Kingdom. Since, all the agreements have been signed, researchers from the ten countries will start the design of the mega radio telescope. Design phase will last till 2018 and we can expect the device to be operational in early 2020s. Design phase itself involves more than 350 researchers and engineers from 18 countries.
The SKA will be made of several thousand radio receivers spread across two continents – Africa and Australia. “Several Indian scientists are working on research areas relevant to SKA. They are gearing up for pursuing cutting edge science with the instrument when it is ready,” said Swarna Kanti Ghosh, the centre director of NCRA.
SKY is being designed to unravel the mystery of universe. Scientists expect that it will tell them about how universe looked at the time of its birth, how black holes and stars came into existence, etc. SKA will also test the limits of Einstein’s theory of gravity by using astronomical objects like pulsars and black holes.
Moreover, the telescope is so vast and sensitive that it can fill up to a three tera byte hard disk with data collected by it in just one second and it will produce more data than the total daily data traffic sen over the web. Optical Fibre used in SKA can wrap entire Earth two times. As of now it is estimated to last for next five decades with some hardware and software changes according to requirement in future.
Telescope will be placed in two sites — Karoo desert in South Africa and Murchis region in Australia.