New Square Kilometre Array Telescope Will Search for Alien Life by Listening to Oldest Sounds in Our Universe
Yesterday, China unveiled the prototype dish design of its Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.
When completed, SKA will amount to 3,000 radio telescopes in the middle of the Australian outback and the South African desert, installed with the principal goal of listening to the oldest sounds of our universe.
Though SKA isn't set to be completed until 2026, the prototype dish nonetheless marks a milestone in advancement of the program.
It was completed by the 54th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC54) bringing together components from China, Germany, and Italy. This also sets the year off as a culmination of a three-year effort that includes institutions in China acting as the consortium lead, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Sweden, overseen by the SKA Organisation based in Manchester. The work has taken place across 18 time zones, and teams around the world have been working on the prototype.
"A second dish, currently under production at CETC54 and funded by the German Max Planck Society, will be shipped to South Africa and assembled at the South African SKA site in the next few months where it will be equipped with its instrumentation and used to conduct real observations for the first time to test its performance and calibrate all the systems," says the statement.
The SKA organization says that this network of telescopes will be powerful enough to "detect very faint radio signals emitted by cosmic sources billions of light years away from Earth, those signals emitted in the first billion years of the Universe (more than 13 billion years ago) when the first galaxies and stars started forming."
With such unprecedented technology, SKA also hopes the project will answer questions about the laws of nature that man has had for ages including how the universe, its stars and galaxies evolved; the accuracy of Einstein's theory of relativity; the true nature of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy'; the origin of cosmic magnetism, and the question: is there other intelligent life in the universe?
It's no surprise that China is leading the efforts to construct and develop SKA—earlier this year it unveiled plans to construct the largest telescope in the world, which will be able to search for alien life by tracing the origins of any signals received.
Other telescopes are pulling their weight in the search for alien life too, though. The ESPRESSO telescope, a network of four separate telescopes that uses mirrors each about the height of a person, can pick up the signatures of previously invisible exoplanets.
Not to be outdone, NASA's Kepler telescope has discovered thousands of exoplanets that may sustain alien life, including a recent discovery of five new planets by civilians who reassessed old Kepler data.