An AUT-backed radio telescope is being officially launched in Warkworth this afternoon as part of a trans-Tasman bid to take a leading position in international geophysics research.
The project, led by professor Sergei Gulyaev, is a protoype for a much bigger bid by Australia and New Zealand to host the internationally-funded Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope (article here, podcast interview with Gulyaev here).
AUT announced last year it was investing half a million dollars on the prototype to boost New Zealand's chances of co-hosting the SKA. It needed a further $3 million in funding to install and maintain the dish.
The 12 metre antenna launched today will enable AUT's Centre for Radio Physics and Space Research to collect massive amounts of data from space as part of the $2.5 billion SKA project, which will create the world's largest radio telescope.
Supercomputers will then be used to analyse the data.
The dish was built by US satellite communications company Patriot Antenna Systems.
The SKA will be used to research the origin and evolution of the Universe.