AARNet begins search for ASKAP fibre provider

350km fibre will link ASKAP radio telescope with Gerladton support base

The Australian National Research and Education Network (AARNet) has begun the search for a supplier to undertake the construction and installation of the fibre optic cable in Western Australia from the Murchison Radio Observatory near Boolardy to the CSIRO-run support base in Geraldton.

This fibre optic cable will form part of the essential infrastructure connecting the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope project to CSIRO and its research partners in Australia and around the world.

The ANZ SKA also reported earlier this month that the first of 36 identical 12-metre antennas that will make up the ASKAP telescope was being assembled and would shortly undergo testing.

The first six antennas of the project are due to be operational by 2011 and the complete ASKAP system is expected to be completed by 2013.

In September AARNet’s CEO, Chris Hancock told Computerworld the organisation would be project-managing the network build for the ASKAP telescope which is to included a 350km link between Geraldton and Boolardy.

“We’re talking about short haul speeds of 80Gbps and long haul links of 2Tbps, which is something like the total European Internet traffic per second," he said at the time.

September also saw the opening of the $100m International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Centre in Perth.

The centre is designed to help Australia prove it is the more suitable site to host the Square Kilometre Array project than South Africa.

When built, the SKA radio telescope will have 10,000 times more discovery potential than any existing telescope.

The decision on which country will host the $2.5b project is expected in 2012.

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