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The Largest Telescope Ever Built Will Rely on Citizens to Analyze Its Reams of Data

 Popular Science (05/27/11) Clay Dillow

 To prove that they can handle the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the world’s biggest and most sensitive radio telescope, researchers from Australia and New Zealand plan to launch a huge cloud computing initiative that will replicate the data flow required to run the giant telescope.  The SKA will consist of 3,000 radio dishes spread as far as 2,000 miles from the central core.  The telescope will generate such a massive volume of data that SKA could need data links with a capacity greater than that of the current Internet.  To support the SKA, Australia is investing $80 million into the Pawsey Center supercomputing hub, which will be petaflop-capable and the third fastest supercomputer in the world when it goes online in 2013.  However, even that capacity may be insufficient, so researchers plan to use cloud computing to distribute the data across thousands of computers and mainframes at universities and institutes around the world.  The researchers say the plan would solve the problem of constantly adding computing capacity and it would engage the public and the global academic community.

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