Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Big Bang to Big Data: World's Largest Radio Telescope to Explore Origins of Universe

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SKA Radio Telescope Will Explored the Universe 13 Billion Years Ago (Credit: SPDO/Swinburne Astronomy Productions)

The SKA, Square Kilometre Array, radio telescope isn't planned for completion until 2024, but IBM is now collaborating to eventually process the incredible amount of data that will result. This is Really Big Data, as in well over 1 exabyte daily, which is more than the world's daily Internet traffic.

Introducing the SKA

The SKA telescope central core will be either in Australia or South Africa. A decision for the location will be made in 2012. A global community of astronomers from more than 20 countries is setting out to build the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest radio telescope.

This extremely powerful survey telescope will have millions of antennas to collect radio signals, forming a collection area equivalent to one square kilometre but spanning a huge surface area - over 3000 km wide or approximately the width of the continental United States. The SKA will be 50 times more sensitive than any former radio device and more than 10,000 times faster than today’s instruments.

The SKA is expected to produce a few Exabytes of data per day for a single beam per one square kilometer. After processing this data the expectation is that per year between 300 and 1500 Petabytes of data need to be stored. In comparison, the approximately 15 Petabytes produced by the large hadron collider at CERN per year of operation is approximately 10 to 100 times less than the envisioned capacity of SKA.

From Big Bang to Big Data: ASTRON and IBM Collaborate to Explore Origins of the Univers

ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and IBM today announced an initial 32.9 million EURO, five-year collaboration to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems targeted for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA is an international consortium to build the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Scientists estimate that the processing power required to operate the telescope will be equal to several millions of today's fastest computers.

ASTRON is one of the leading scientific partners in the international consortium that is developing the SKA. Upon completion in 2024, the telescope will be used to explore evolving galaxies, dark matter and even the very origins of the universe—dating back more than 13 billion years.

The Square Kilometre Array


Seeking Alpha