“Square kilometre array and how it will be heavily reliant on optical fibre systems.”
The Square Kilometre Array, a next-generation radio telescope, will change the way humanity views the Universe. Building on 70 years of radio astronomy developments, astronomers and engineers are designing what will be the largest scientific instrument on the planet. The SKA, currently in the detailed design phase, will be built in Australia and South Africa by an international consortium, currently of 10 nations. The science to be done by SKA encompasses almost the entire history of the Universe, from exploring the so-called Cosmic Dawn, when the first stars and galaxies were formed, to understanding how planets are formed in the present day. Along the way SKA will enable precise studies of the secrets of gravity, dark energy, dark matter and the molecular building blocks of life.
I will discuss the current status of SKA, as the project prepares for the transition to construction. I will describe in detail the critical role that optical fibre systems play in enabling the SKA, with its requirement to transmit data at Tbit/sec rates over hundreds and thousands of kilometres, to become a reality.
Professor Philip Diamond is the Director-General of the SKA (Square Kilometre Array). He was appointed to this position in October 2012, and is responsible for the team designing and ultimately constructing the SKA, which, when completed, will be the largest scientific project on Earth.
From 2010 – 2012 he was the Chief of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), which operates the major radio astronomy facilities in Australia, namely Parkes, the Compact Array and Mopra. CASS also operates the NASA Deep Space Network tracking station at Tidbinbilla, near Canberra, and has built ASKAP, the Australian SKA Pathfinder, in the Murchison in Western Australia.
Prof Diamond moved to Australia in June 2010, leaving his previous role as Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, part of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester in the UK. The University owns and operates the giant Lovell Telescope and, on behalf of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, the e-MERLIN/VLBI National Facility. Prof. Diamond was responsible for the operation of both facilities.
Professor Diamond completed his PhD at the University of Manchester in 1982. He worked at the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden and the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn, Germany before moving to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA for 12 years. He held the position of Deputy Director of the NRAO’s VLA and VLBA before moving back to the UK in 1999 upon being appointed as the Director of MERLIN.
Professor Diamond’s research interests include studies of star birth and death; exploring both through the use of radio interferometers such as MERLIN. He is also interested in high resolution studies of supernovae, both in our own Galaxy and in others. Finally, he also dabbles in studies of discs of molecular gas rotating around super-massive black-holes at the centres of other galaxies. He has published ~300 research papers in astronomy.
Phil is married to Jill; they have a son who recently graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Genetics from the University of Leeds and a daughter who works as a project manager for a company installing remote scanning devices in libraries, warehouses and factories. He enjoys reading, supporting Manchester United and the England Rugby and Cricket teams, watching his son play rugby and playing the (very) occasional game of squash.