ASKAP wins national innovation award

ASKAP Project Director Antony Schinckel with the front page of the Australian newspaper. Credit: CSIRO.

ASKAP Project Director Antony Schinckel with the front page of the Australian newspaper. Credit: CSIRO.

ASKAP Project Director Antony Schinckel.

27 November 2014

CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope has taken home the overall prize in the Australian Innovation Challenge Awards, with judges recognising the telescope as “one of those advances that keeps Australia on the global innovation map”.

During the awards ceremony last night at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, ASKAP was pronounced not only the winner of the Manufacturing, Construction and Infrastructure category, but also the overall winner of the national awards.

This is not the first time ASKAP has taken home a national award, but according to ASKAP Project Director Antony Schinckel, it is huge feather in ASKAP team's cap.

"The acknowledgement of ASKAP, as well as the science and the technology development being performed here at CSIRO will help increase the understanding of the value of the ASKAP team’s hard work, and the value of the project to Australia," he said.

ASKAP’s revolutionary phased array feed (PAF) receivers and associated digital systems were a key driver behind the award, thanks to the increased survey speed and sensitivity the technology offers.

Already, six Mk I PAFs are installed on ASKAP antennas and producing early science results, as part of the commissioning activities with the Boolardy Engineering Test Array (BETA). With the recent installation of the next generation (Mk II) PAF on ASKAP Antenna 29, the team is now looking forward to the next step in enhancing ASKAP’s capabilities.

The ASKAP project employs cutting-edge receiver and computing technologies to provide a transformational science capability to the international science community. It is in the nature of the project – in pushing the boundaries of ICT technologies and in requiring smart systems for finding small signatures in very large volumes of data – that could yield valuable spin-offs, and make a profound and positive impact in a variety of alternative applications.

The awards are a great recogniition of what a scientifically, technically and logistically ambitious project ASKAP is, taking expertise in the research and development of cutting edge low cost technologies, and working together with industry to put these technologies into production.

The Director General of the international SKA project, Professor Phil Diamond, was also happy to hear the good news.

“This is fantastic news for you, the ASKAP team both present and past, and CSIRO,” said Phil, “ASKAP was, and still is, a challenging project, pushing hard on the state-of-the-art in radio astronomy technology. I have always had faith that the talented CSIRO team would deliver, and the recent results are demonstrating that that faith is fully justified.”

The Australian Innovation Challenge awards are run by The Australian in association with Shell and with the support of the federal Department of Industry.

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