Australia and Germany strengthen technical links for SKA

March 04, 2008

CSIRO and its counterpart in Germany, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, have signed an agreement that will strengthen their cooperation over plans for the international Square Kilometre Array telescope.

Australia and South Africa are both bidding to host the $2 billion Square Kilometre Array, which will be the world's largest and most powerful radio telescope.

Both CSIRO and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft are involved in the planning for the SKA and the "pathfinder" telescopes being built to demonstrate SKA technology.

Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research who is in Berlin for the signing today said that this collaboration will be valuable for both parties, and will help strengthen global preparations for the SKA.

"It will also strengthen Australia's chance of hosting the SKA," Senator Carr said.

The new agreement between the two organizations formalises their commitment to work cooperatively on developing new technology for radio astronomy, an area in which both have been actively engaged for many decades.

CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility operates three radio observatories in New South Wales, including the 64m Parkes radio telescope and the Australia Telescope Array at Narrabri, and together with partners is building the Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope in Western Australia.

The Max-Planck-Insitut fuer Radioastronomie operates the 100m Effelsburg radio telescope near Bonn, Germany, which is the largest radio telescope in Europe.

Both Parkes and Effelsburg are key participants in projects that form networks of telescopes over huge distances. This technique of linking telescopes electronically will be very important in making the SKA work.

In addition to collaboration over the SKA, the agreement paves the way for CSIRO-designed technology to be fitted to the Effelsburg telescope, and for CSIRO's telescopes to be used for large astronomical surveys that will feed into other work being done with European telescopes.

CSIRO Australia

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