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Now, a supercomputer to uncover space secrets

Last Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 21:04

Melbourne: A new 33-million dollar supercomputer bound for Perth will help scientists around the world to uncover the secrets of the universe, Australia’s Minister for Science and Research Chris Evans has said.

The supercomputer will be installed at the purpose-built Pawsey Centre at Technology Park in the southern suburb of Kensington.

It will be operational in March and will process masses of data generated by the existing Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Widefield Array radio telescopes at an observatory in Western Australia’s Mid-West region.

Both radio telescopes helped in Australia and New Zealand’s successful bid to co-host the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the biggest and most advanced radio telescope ever constructed.

It was decided in May that WA and New Zealand would share the 2 billion dollars SKA project with South Africa.

Comprising 3000 dishes and with a discovery potential 10,000 times greater than the best present-day instruments, the SKA will observe such deep space remnants left by the Big Bang and how galaxies evolved, and will attempt to uncover more about the “dark energy” that apparently fuelled the expansion of the universe

While the Pawsey Centre machines would initially only process data from the existing Mid West radio telescopes, floor space is being kept free to expand them for use in the international SKA project.

Senator Evans announced on Friday that five specialist suppliers, led by Seattle-based Cray Inc, would build the supercomputer.

“This supercomputer is a critical tool for the Australian scientific community that will increase our research capacity in a range of fields, including radio astronomy, the geosciences and in nanotechnology and biosciences,” quoted him as saying.

“What is happening with the SKA and the supercomputer is the modern-day equivalent of landing on the moon, and it’s happening right here in our own backyard,” he said.

Senator said that the mining state was showing it was able to develop world-leading science that would provide benefits for Australia for decades to come.


First Published: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 21:04
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