SKA Project - Guidelines for Mining Activities
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international endeavour to develop the world's largest and most advanced radio telescope which, when completed in 2024, will have 50 times the sensitivity and 10,000 times the survey speed of today's best instruments.
The Square Kilometre Array
The SKA will be an interferometric array of around 3,000 mid-frequency dish antennas, plus fields of low-frequency fixed antennas, all linked via a fibre optic network to operate as a single instrument.
Approximately half of the total antenna collecting area will be located within a fifteen kilometre radius of the core site. A further quarter of the collecting area will be spaced along five spiral arms within 200 kilometres of the core site, with the remaining antennas located at decreasing densities across a continent-size baseline.
The SKA will address fundamental, contemporary questions about the physical nature of the Universe and the laws that underpin it, with a focus on five key areas of science:
- Evolution of galaxies, cosmology, dark matter and energy
- Probing the Dark Ages – the first black holes and stars
- Extreme tests of general relativity with pulsars and black holes
- The origin and evolution of cosmic magnetism
- The Cradle of Life – searching for life and planets
Two host sites are under consideration by the international community: Australia - New Zealand, and a consortium of nine African countries led by the Republic of South Africa. The Australia - New Zealand core site is located in Western Australia’s Mid West region at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), 315 kilometres north east of Geraldton. Outlying arrays would extend east across the continent to New Zealand. South Africa’s core site is in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape Province in the Republic of South Africa, about 75 kilometres from the town of Carnarvon. Outlying arrays are planned in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.
A final site decision is expected in April 2012.
Radio Quiet Protection
Critical to the SKA's success will be the level of radio quietness at the core site. The Mid West Radio Quiet Zone has been created to limit radio frequency emissions that may interfere with the telescope’s operation, including from mining and exploration activities in the vicinity of the MRO.
Both South Africa and Australia are constructing precursor telescopes, equivalent to approximately 1% of the full-size SKA, to test different receptor technologies and to showcase the qualities of their respective core sites.
The Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope (ASKAP)
ASKAP is a next-generation, world-class telescope in its own right and one of the largest science projects ever undertaken in Australia. It will consist of 36 dish antennas incorporating three axis movement, novel receiver technologies and leading-edge ICT systems. ASKAP is being designed and built by CSIRO at the MRO, for completion in 2013.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA)
The MWA is a revolutionary low-frequency radio telescope consisting of antenna 'tiles' with no moving parts, dependent on computing power to create real-time, wide-field images of the radio sky. The project, led by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research team at Curtin University, is a collaboration between institutions in Australia, the United States, India and New Zealand.
The original 32-tile prototype is now being expanded to 128 tiles and will be completed in November 2012.
The Australian SKA Industry Capability Directory
The Australian SKA Industry Capability Directory showcases a range of Australian companies and organisations with relevants skills and experience to support the development and construction of ASKAP and in time, the SKA.
For more information go to http://www.skacapabilities.com.au/
To discuss issues and to file a Radio Quiet Management Plan for approval, please contact:
Digital Economy Branch
(08) 9263 8248
(08) 9263 8231