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MWA operations take off

Cite Magazine
Issue 22 - Summer 2013

The much-lauded Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope began operations in July, launched by Senator the Hon. Kim Carr, then the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, at a special event to mark the occasion.

From left: Professor Steven Tingay; Senator the Hon. Kim Carr; Director General SKA Organisation Professor Philip Diamond; and CSIRO SKA Director Dr Brian Boyle
From left: Professor Steven Tingay; Senator the Hon. Kim Carr; Director General SKA Organisation Professor Philip Diamond; and CSIRO SKA Director Dr Brian Boyle

A precursor telescope to the $2 billion Square Kilometre Array – the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope – the MWA will give scientists an unprecedented look at the Universe.

Senator Carr described the launch as a proud day for Australia, with the MWA the first of the three precursor telescopes to be operational.

“In addition to helping us see back to the origins of the Universe, the array will also help us to understand the interaction between the Earth and the Sun, give early warning of destructive solar flares, and study our galaxy and other galaxies,” he said at the launch, held in Melbourne.

“I congratulate the international consortium, led by Professor Steven Tingay at Curtin University, whose hard work has delivered a world first for Australia.”

The start of MWA operations is the culmination of nearly nine years of development, construction, testing and verification of the precursor telescope.

More than 700 astronomers and engineers from Australia, US, India and New Zealand will be involved in the nine inaugural MWA research programs.