The SKA will be the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever. (Photo: VCG)
Chinese scientists have developed the first regional center prototype of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the world's largest astronomical device.
The prototype, developed by the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) under the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will help push forward the construction and operation of the future SKA regional center, said An Tao, head of the SKA group of the SHAO.
An article introducing the prototype was published in the latest issue of the academic journal Nature Astronomy.
The SKA will be the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever. It will combine signals received via thousands of small antennas spreading over 3,000 km to simulate a single giant radio telescope with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometer.
The construction of the SKA is planned to start next year, and China, one of the founding members, is investigating the China regional center scheme, which will offer a platform for multi-disciplinary science research, in-depth data processing, long-term storage and advanced technique development, An said.
He said the prototype aims to provide scientists worldwide with necessary computing resources, high-quality data products, and convenient technical support to conduct SKA early science and understand the data challenges.
The commissioning of the prototype is expected to take place in 2020. The pioneering work and practical operational experience of the prototype will be valuable for improving the design and future large-scale expansion of SKA regional centers, he added.