back to article UK finally signs off on Square Kilometre Array Observatory Convention

Amidst the paroxysms of coronavirus and Brexit, the United Kingdom on Wednesday found time to ratify the Convention that formally establishes the SKA Observatory (SKAO), paving the way for the giant radio telescope to be built. The Convention governing the SKAO requires that at least five nations, including the three host …

  1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Gi's a job

    I'll stroke some of their servers if they want.

  2. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Nasty, nasty

    If you think the Kalahari / Karoo is a nasty, hot place, just be glad you're not going to Johannesburg or Pretoria. Just last week my mother's elderly neighbour almost was hijacked at the local supermarket. When she got into her vehicle a man climbed into the passenger seat and started giving her directions where to drive to. Lucky for the neighbour, a car guard saw what happened and was able to rescue her. This is in broad daylight in what is presumably the better side of Pretoria. A few days later two elderly people were assulted and robbed at gunpoint at a garden center not far away from the supermarket. Nasty place indeed.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Nasty, nasty

      That was part of a diplomatic slap fight between building it in Oz or Za.

      Australia expressed "health and safety concerns" for staff in South Africa, to which J'burg replied along the lines of "you're aving a larf - what about giant venomous spiders setting up home in the dishes if you put it in Oz?"

      In true diplomatic fashion it is now in both countries.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Nasty, nasty

        Is there any data on the relative incidences of "bugs" in computer software produced by Australia and South Africa?

  3. eroux

    Nasty hot places?

    As someone who grew up in the Karoo, I have to say...

    You're not entirely wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nasty hot places?

      I have also been in the Karoo in winter and can say it can get bloody cold on a winter night.

    2. richardcox13

      Re: Nasty hot places?

      Having the HQ in Cheshire will help balance that out. If a staff member is too hot they take a turn at HQ and shortly they will dream of hot and dry!

  4. John Robson Silver badge

    Area ...

    just determines exposure times, it's the diameter that affects resolving power.

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Area ...

      Area ...

      just determines exposure times, it's the diameter that affects resolving power.

      The flashers mantra!

  5. herman Silver badge

    Meerkat array

    Large parts of the SKA in South Africa snd Australia are already built and operating.

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Meerkat array

      That makes more sense. When I read the article my first thought was to question my memory as I recall it being finished over a year ago. I guess it was just a section.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Meerkat array

      Large parts might be putting it a bit optimistically. Australia and South Africa both have some test kit set up on site. Out of the planned 3000 dishes and 130,000 attenae, they have 100 dishes between them, all significantly smaller than the ones that will be used in the actual SKA. It's an important part of the design and prototyping process, and obviously can do plenty of useful science in its own right, but it's a very, very long way from being a large part of the final thing.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Meerkat array

      >Large parts of the SKA in South Africa snd Australia are already built and operating.

      Was it much too much and much too young ?

  6. Yes Me Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Worth noting...

    ...that if they do what they say, SKA data rates & international networking and computing power will outrank the CERN LHC project many times over.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Worth noting...

      It's always been like that with radio telescopes. I remember being shown a Manchester University network map 30+ years ago, one link on which was labelled "M6Net". Of course I asked what this was - it turned out to be a graduate student driving from Jodrell Bank to Manchester every Friday afternoon with a boot full of 1/2" magnetic tapes containing that week's observations.

      Manchester in those days had one of the national supercomputing centres, in large part to process Jodrell Bank data.

  7. David Pearce

    Fibre Link

    Presumably this must involve a new fibre round the Indian Ocean from Australia to South Africa.

    The Indian Ocean is badly served with high speed data links compared to the Pacific and this project will need bandwidth

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Fibre Link

      Never underestimate the bandwidth of a container ship full of LTO tapes

  8. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    The Reg online standards converter

    is lacking an entry for computer storage...

    Final annual output is expected to be 130 petabytes a year, still a hard-to-wrangle quantity of data for the world’s astro-boffins.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing there...

    It'll look at the nothing, at huge expense, on the off chance that someone comes up with a great idea that has absolutely nothing to do with the main project?

  10. Neurons for Kryton

    Can’t see the data for the trees...

    Yet another over the top pi**ing contest multi-govt project - 8.8 terabyte of data per second from each dish x 130,000 of the beggars - how much of this data is actually going to be professionally analysed/used ? Surely it would be better to go for lower amount of quality based data rather than going for an all out scatter gun approach and trying to grab all the information in the observable universe. Heck, for the humongous amount of money potentially to be spent on this project (think hardware, data management, staff, logistic and political costs), what about about being truly forward thinking and setting up a radio dish array on a smaller scale on the far side of the moon as has been proposed for a while - probably would work out cheaper and get proper research quality data on a useable scale - better get Elon Musk in on the job !

    1. genghis_uk

      Re: Can’t see the data for the trees...

      The data will probably be hardware filtered in the same way that CERN reduces the petabyte of data per second from the LHC. They have banks of FPGAs that bring the data rate down to something acceptable.

      Just because you can generate 8.8TB/s, does not mean that is what you have to operate with. Change the filter to change the dataset so you have a 'lower amount of quality based data' but you can change the focus.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Can’t see the data for the trees...

      That number is a bit "marketing speak". Imagine listening to radio1 on a software defined radio, that's 100Mhz at 16bit = 200Mb/s. But it quickly cooks down to much less "information" / second.

      The reason the data rate from each dish is so high is that the 'raw' data can now be digitised and then a bunch of correlation / filtering /frequency selection etc that we used to do in HW can now be done more efficiently and cheaper in software,

  11. W.S.Gosset

    "nasty hot places"


    A/ we got / we mostly are, nasty hot places

    B/ including prototypes (no, no, you're welcome), we've already got a coupla've them running. Including full-scale Production version.

    Doing well, so far.


    ---> Australian

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon