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Australia launches world-leading telescope

10-06-2012 05:40 BJT

CANBERRA, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Australia officially launched the first stage of the world-leading telescope project on Friday in the Western Australian desert.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Chris Evans, attended the launching ceremony, hailing the project as "the world's most powerful radio astronomy telescope and has huge capabilities way beyond anything that currently exists".

As The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) website reported, the project, named Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), is located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), about 650 kilometres northeast of Perth, the capital city of the state of Western Australia.

It is made up of 36 identical antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, all working together as a single instrument.It is expected to capture radio images with unprecedented sensitivity and speed, allowing astronomers to explore large areas of the sky and investigate the depths of the universe, CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, introduced in its website.

The 36 dishes will be combined with an additional 60 dishes, due to begin construction in 2016, to form part of the world's largest radio telescope - the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). It will then extend into New Zealand and southern Africa, where several thousand antennas will be built.

According to CSIRO, the telescope will allow astronomers to investigate fundamental questions involving dark matter, dark energy, the nature of gravity, the origins of the first stars and galaxies, and more.

Evans says the SKA will be one of the great scientific projects of the 21st century. "This will basically see the Pathfinder project expanded to a 96 antenna project, beyond the 36 - which will be our contribution, Australia's contribution, to the first phase of the project (SKA) and South Africa will be providing the other contribution, for that part of the first phase of the project which will be operational in 2020."


Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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