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Is there life out there? Balance is building radio-quite power for the world's largest radio telescope

May 5, 2019 2 minutes read  News

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area.

As one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, the SKA is bringing together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to fruition.

The Murchison is one of the most radio-quiet places on earth with a legislated quiet zone of 260km.

Working on the SKA alongside Curtin University and ICRAR has created unique opportunities for Balance technical staff and the business and has positively assisted in broadening Balance's capabilities, especially in the area of highly distributed low power, low-cost, radio-quiet inverters.’

Balance CEO Rod Hayes

Balance engineer James Buchan has been working on the project through his PhD with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)

James’ PhD is jointly supervised by ICRAR and the Curtin Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering, and James says he wanted to do research in radio astronomy because the SKA is such a large-scale and well-known project.

“The project that we’re working on involves designing and prototyping a solar hybrid stand-alone power system that will supply energy to the antennas.”

“The power system will contain a commercially available inverter, which is expected to generate electromagnetic interference requiring suppression technologies such as filtering and shielding”

“If this inverter generates too much electromagnetic interference and fails to meet electromagnetic compatibility standards for the SKA, we will have to come up with a new design for one that doesn’t interfere with the antennas

Is there life out there? Balance is building radio-quite power for the world's largest radio telescope

Once all the design packages are completed and approved, a critical design review for the entire project will take place before construction starts, which is expected to be in 2020.