The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (or ICRAR) is only three months old but like the early Universe it’s already rapidly expanding. ICRAR’s scientists have some ambitious projects ahead as they set about making a significant contribution to global science and engineering, the realisation and scientific success of the Square Kilometre Array and Australasian chances of hosting the world’s largest radio telescope.
The challenge ahead for ICRAR’s researchers is to pave the way for discoveries through large-scale neutral hydrogen surveys, studies of the Universe on short time scales and development of new technologies. These exciting realms of science and engineering represent great potential for big discoveries as the Australian SKA pathfinder instruments come online; the new instruments include the Murchison Wide-field Array (MWA) and the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP).
Collecting information from the whole universe takes a lot of computing power, and to transfer, store and analyse this data is one of the biggest challenges for radio astronomers. In the first six hours of operation ASKAP will gather more data than all the world’s radio telescopes for the past 50 years. ICRAR will push back the frontiers of modern computing, developing new methods to store and analyse the exabytes of data generated every day.