While most of us were away for the Christmas and New Year holidays, very industrious Australians toiled through the heat of summer (above 40 degrees everyday!) to ensure that the first dish of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) was installed at the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory (MRO) on schedule.
The ASKAP is designed to be a survey instrument, enabling us to collect faint radio frequency signals from the early Universe to improve our understanding of its origins and evolution. If all goes well, all 36 dishes of the ASKAP should be up and running by 2012, putting Australia in good stead to win the bid to host the Square Kilometre Array, an ambitious international mega-science project that will see the construction of the world’s largest telescope comprising of thousands of antennas spread out over distances of a few thousand kilometres. This is indeed an exciting time for astronomy in Australia!