An interactive educational website has been launched to encourage studies in astronomy and create awareness of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.
Launching the SKA website, the Questacon Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry Richard Marles said the website is not only aimed at school-aged children but rather designed for the world.
“This new site will generate a great deal of interest in the SKA. It features resources for teachers and downloadable content and will be a valuable education tool dedicated to Australian space and astronomy,” said Marles in a statement.
The SKA, expected to be finished in 2020, will allow users to access information gathered by 3600 antennae spread over thousands of kilometers and take a glimpse into the origins of the universe over 13 billion years ago. The SKA radio telescope, unlike a typical optical telescope is not affected by weather conditions as it detects different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
IBM is currently researching technologies that will process and store the exabyte (1018) of data expected to flow per day from SKA.
The SKA website is made interactive through features such as online polls, games and links to SKA events taking place around the world.
In addition, there are also downloadable mobile phone ringtones and wallpapers, as well as videos featuring interviews with some of Australia’s top astronomers.
On the home page of the site, the user is able to select links which lead to topics such as the purpose of the SKA, what we should look for and ways to power the technology.
These links lead to a simple explanation of the topics, ranging from traditional to futuristic thinking.
For educators, the website offers “Windows to the Universe”, a new teaching resource designed for students in year 9 to 10 across Australia.
Marles said he hoped upon the completion of the SKA project in 2020, the school children who visit the site may be inspired to pursue careers in astronomy or even work on the SKA itself.
“This is a hugely exciting project and we hope that by developing a range of education and outreach programs, young Australians in particular will follow its progress and, in doing so, enrich their understanding of our place in the universe,” Marles said.
The Australian Government has committed more than $200 million to the Australian SKA Pathfinder and the Pawsey HPC Centre for SKA Science and the website is an example of the education projects that they fund has been invested in.