This also is the first team to finish its module among the 12 international engineering teams working on the SKA. The TM — considered the observatory’s nervous system — will control, monitor and operate the SKA telescopes.
The SKA is an international collaborative project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. According to the SKA’s official website, data collected by the SKA in a single day would take nearly 20 lakh years to play on an iPod. The SKA “will monitor the sky in unprecedented detail.”
The SKA will be nearly 50 times the size of India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT).
“The work had started in 2013. We were assisted by the R&D departments of Tata Consultancy Services and Persistent Systems,” said Yashwant Gupta, the dean of GMRT Observatory and senior professor, NCRA and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
Gupta said the software had to be submitted last year, but ran into delays. “There were some time lapses because of the number of people working across different time zones,” he said, adding that the real challenge was to manage the vast team across time zones and varying work cultures.
The Critical Design Review (CDR) was done two months ago in Manchester. This is the last stage where experts check if the design meets tough engineering requirements of the project. “Two days ago, we received a certificate of approval, effectively ending our contribution to the first phase,” he added.
Yogesh Wadadekar, reader, NCRA, said the TM was designed by software engineers, with astrophysicists adding astronomical heft to the project. “Hundreds of thousands of monitoring points are considered (in the TM). Data coming from all this is parsed to give a coherent result,” said Wadadekar, explaining how TM works.
“We are trying to set up a data centre in India, where a portion of the data generated can be stored. A prototype of this centre is being planned in Pune. If approved, we will build a full-fledged centre elsewhere. The data will be uploaded to a science portal,” said NCRA associate professor Tirthankar Roy Choudhury.
The Centre has contributed Rs 30 crore to first phase. The scientists will meet the government officials on August 13 regarding funds for the second phase.