New telescope tries to discover whether we are alone in the universe

What the SKA facility is expected to look like when finished. Ministry of Industry, Science and Resources

A new facility built in the Australian Outback could potentially detect alien life across the universe.

Construction work on the world’s largest radio telescope began on Monday about 320 miles north of the western city of Perth.

Once the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is complete, the $2 billion facility will be able to capture the entire observable universe in unprecedented detail, with more than 130,000 Christmas tree-shaped antennas providing astronomers and scientists with a wealth of valuable deep space data. Data that could unravel some of the mysteries of the universe.

The antennas will scan the observable universe for low-range radio frequencies between 50 and 350 megahertz and will be able to map what they see 135 times faster than current telescopes.

“The scale of the SKA represents a major breakthrough in building and delivering a unique instrument in both engineering and research and development,” the SKA Organization website states.

“As one of the largest scientific endeavors in history, the SKA will bring together the world’s top scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to life.”

He added that its unique configuration will provide users of the facility with “unrivaled coverage for observations, vastly exceeding the image resolution quality of the Hubble Space Telescope.”

SKA will work with a similar project in South Africa that will use around 200 space-facing dishes.

The international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope has been underway for three decades. The facility will take about six years to build, and some work includes land deals with local Aboriginal communities.

Scientists and astronomers will be able to start extracting data from the SKA before construction work is finished, so that just four years from now it may begin to present some fascinating findings.

Lead scientist at the Royal Australian Institute Professor Alan Duffy told the Brisbane Times about some of the work the SKA will undertake: to map the growth of galaxies in these vast filaments that span the cosmic web of dark matter and the universe.”

Meanwhile, SKA official Dr Sarah Pearce offered a tantalizing detail: “SKA telescopes will be sensitive enough to detect an airport radar on a planet orbiting a star tens of light years away, so it can answer even the biggest question: Are we the only one in the universe? by yourself?”

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