Print this page

SKA precursor upgrade makes telescope 10 times more powerful

MWA aerial view of the centre of the array. AAVS1, the station of prototype SKA-low antennas, is visible at bottom left. Credit – Curtin University

Perth, Western Australia, Tuesday 24 April 2018 – A major expansion of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), one of four SKA precursor telescopes, has been completed, doubling the number of antenna stations at the remote site in Western Australia.

The addition of 2,048 antennas will make the low-frequency radio telescope ten times more powerful as it seeks to explore the evolution of the Universe. As one of four precursors to the SKA, the MWA provides scientists with invaluable knowledge and carries out scientific study related to future SKA activities. Curtin University, based in Perth, operates the telescope on behalf of a consortium of 21 research institutions.

MWA Director Prof Melanie Johnston-Hollitt notes that the upgrade will greatly assist scientists in their research. “The telescope is now ten times more powerful and with double the resolution, meaning not only can we explore more of the Universe, but the quality of the images we produce is significantly improved, providing the opportunity for greater scientific discovery,” Prof Johnston-Hollitt said.

Prof. Philip Diamond, SKA Director-General, Australian Federal Minister for Jobs & Innovation Michaelia Cash, Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, Chair of the SKA Board of Directors and Prof. Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, Director of the MWA telescope. Credit: David Luchetti

Australia’s Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash attended a celebratory event at Curtin University alongside Prof Johnston-Hollitt, SKA Organisation Director-General Prof Philip Diamond and Chair of the SKA Board of Directors Dr Catherine Cesarsky.

“The SKA will be the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever constructed and will be used by scientists from around the world to make major discoveries about the universe. Lessons learned in building and operating the MWA are vital to delivering the SKA,” Minister Cash said in a statement. “These projects are also driving the development of new technologies, particularly in the field of big data management. This work is helping to expand Australian businesses and create jobs, in Western Australia and across the country.”

Read the official press release on the Curtin University website.

Read the official statement from the Australian Government.