Heavens above: ASKAP telescope’s first glimpse at the stars

First published on PCMag.com – July 8th, 2014



irst look at images recorded by ASKAP telescope

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Telescope is set to be the world’s most powerful radio telescope, at up to 50 times more sensitive than its predecessors. While it may not give us the pretty images of the Hubble or the new James Webb Space Telescope it has perhaps the biggest physical footprint on the Earth – a series of around 3,000 individual receivers spanning an area of nearly 3,000km.

Its name originates from the collection area – one square kilometre of space.

Australia is currently building the Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) which is 36 separate 12-metre antennas that will work together as a single instrument through a computerised system.

This month we got to see the first images from the giant space scanner which is already operating twice as fast as any comparable telescope in the Southern Hemisphere; at a dynamic imaging range of 50,000:1. The project members are excited to say the least, especially the Aussie scientists.

“We’ve never had a telescope like this before. We can see that the novel aspects of its design really do work, and that it will outperform a conventional telescope,” said CSIRO’s Dr Mc Connell, leader of the ASKAP Commissioning and Early Science team...