Wellington: Two New Zealand research groups are to lead work on designing crucial aspects of the world`s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, a minister announced here Tuesday.
According to Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce, Auckland University of Technology and Wellington`s Victoria University would lead work on the central signal processor and the science data processor work packages, working alongside other New Zealand experts over the three-year design phase, reports Xinhua.
"The Square Kilometre Array is a global effort to create the biggest and most technologically advanced radio telescope ever built. It will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky thousands of times faster than any system currently in existence," Joyce said.
More than 350 scientists and engineers from 18 countries and more than 100 institutions would be involved in the work, he added.
The project, which is expected to become operational after 2020, is being undertaken by institutions from 10 nations -- Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and Britain, with India as an associate member.
"The government is investing a total of NZ$1.717 million ($1.42 million) for this project, with New Zealand institutions providing matching contributions, totalling more than NZ$2.17 million over three years," he said.
One of the greatest challenges associated with the project is the "big data challenge" of how to maximise the scientific return from the vast amount of data generated, said the New Zealand scientific representative to the Square Kilometre Array board of directors, Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, of Victoria University.
"We`ll be working with our partners across New Zealand to lead the work concerned with how to best extract information from data captured by the Square Kilometre Array, and determine the computation requirements needed to process it," she said.
The Square Kilometre Array to be located in Australia and South Africa, will consist of thousands of dishes and millions of dipole radio receptors, with an effective collecting area of a square kilometre, making it 100 times as sensitive as the biggest existing telescopes and image resolution quality 50 times that of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Andrew Ensor of Auckland University of Technology is leading the design of the survey correlator which would combine the signals from all the receivers.
The data volumes and computational requirements would be 10 times that of the world`s fastest supercomputers and require new high-performance computing and low-power technologies, Ensor said.