Local SKA bid looks to Italy, Netherlands for help

The anzSKA working group has forged links with Italy and the Netherlands to co-develop antennae and renewable energy processes

Australia's bid to host the $13 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project has become an international effort with new agreements forged with radio astronomy organisations in the Netherlands and Italy.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, used a speech at the third international SKA forum to announce an agreement between CSIRO and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), which would see the two organisations co-develop techologies underpinning SKA telescopes.

The joint innovation will provide phased array feeds, "receivers with many separate, simultaneous beams for detecting radio waves", for six of the antennas on the Australian SKA Pathfinder radio-telescope (ASKAP) in Western Australiaand will be operational by the time the telescope is completed in 2011.

Further discussions are also currently being held between delegates from the Australian working group and Italy over potential collaborative projects. According to a news update from the Australian and New Zealand SKA (anzSKA) organisation, the two teams could be working on renewable energy projects.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last week announced $47 million for solar and geothermal energy systems for the project.

In May, NextGen Networks commenced work on the roll out of a 426km fibre optic backhaul link between Perth and Geraldton in Western Australia, which will provide vital links of up to 8Tbps between the telescopes in Murchison and the HPC Pawsey Centre in CSIRO's Perth site, which will analyse data from the telescopes.

Australia's $300 million bid, in competition with a shortlisted site in South Africa, spans sites in Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and New Zealand, which is connected across the Tasman by a 1Gbps link between CSIRO and Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network sites.

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Tags Senator Kim CarrMinister for InnovationScience and ResearchindustrySquare Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope

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