Ten years ago we talked of our hope for a New Zealand involvement in the Square Kilometre Array project - the biggest space project of its kind. Now that has happened: NZ is one of 11 countries involved in SKA and our team at AUT is busy designing what is often called the brain of the SKA – its central signal processor and science data processor. It is the top of high-tech, it is actually the future of all IT industry, because the SKA requirements in terms of the speed of computing, amount of data it deals with and data transfer are enormous. We can expect major economic spin-offs, the so called “Apollo mission effect”, when each dollar invested in the scientific programme returned as much as $10 in the country’s economy, just because it was the most cutting edge and breakthrough research. This is the first time New Zealand has been part of a science project of such an enormous scale.
Our space monitoring capability has also changed significantly. Ten years ago we talked about constructing the first NZ professional radio telescope. Now we have two. My big dream would be to set up a radio telescope in the South Island and Antarctica. Participation in SKA demonstrates recognition of New Zealand’s leading place in radio astronomy and computer science, and over the next 10 years, New Zealand will continue to have a major involvement in international space research.
AUT Professor Sergei Gulyaev has been the major driving force behind NZ’s involvement in SKA for two decades. We featured him in issue 27 (May-Jun 2010)