Oct 272010
SKA Radio Telescope - Square Kilometre Array

Artist’s impression of the SKA dishes. Credit: SPDO/TDP/DRAO/Swinburne Astronomy Productions.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an ambitious project to develop the world’s biggest ever radio telescope, hopefully located in Western Australia. It will be composed of thousands of receivers stretching across the whole country.

The public profile of this project seems to be growing thanks to people like Dr. Kevin Vinsen who, in their own time, sometimes give small presentations explaining the project and pointing out some of the more amazing facts about the way it works. Kevin belongs to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) organisation which is heavily involved in the SKA project.

Recently, Kevin had a chat to the year 4s at All Saints’ College in Bull Creek, WA. He says that there are two main things in science that really get kids interested: space and dinosaurs. He reckons that if they find an exoplanet that has dinosaurs on it science will be the big winner.

Yesterday, Kevin gave a test run of his presentation that he will deliver in Edinburgh next week, to the people at the Department of Education in Perth, Western Australia. The audience was primarily non-scientist and non-technical, although there were a number of software engineering specialists (you know who you are). Even so, the concept, when explained well, is captivating. A lot of conversation and questions resulted as people tried to make sense of the information and comprehend the magnitude of the huge numbers involved relating to the storage and data handling requirements tha the SKA demands.

Thanks Kevin for spreading some of your enthusiasm and knowledge and helping to raise public awareness of this amazing project.

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