The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (AKSAP) is a grid of 36 12-meter antennas that are designed to work together as a single device, so as to capture information about large chunks of the sky at once. The grid went live today. Its size and power will allow it to capture data from a nearby galaxy much faster and in less time than current telescopes. While they would take 150 images and 10,000 hours of processing to get a clear picture of a nearby galaxy, AKSAP can do it in two images and in just five minutes.
The array is a project of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and is a pilot for the larger Square Kilometre Array, which will be the world’s largest telescope when it’s completed. It’s size and scope will help us answer thorny questions about things like dark matter, black holes, and the evolution of galaxies.
So celebrate your Friday afternoon with by watching this amazing tour of the Australian night sky, while the antennas slowly scan the heavens. Seeing science at work is rarely quite so beautiful.