The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) has provided an update on its role in the bid for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, with CEO Chris Hancock saying the organisation has completed a number of successful trials in hopes of securing Australia and New Zealand’s bid.
Hancock, who earlier this year talked to Computerworld Australia about AARNet partnering with the CSIRO to develop the first Australasian virtual e-telescope, said the past few months have been focused on collaborating with New Zealand to further develop the project, with a demonstration of the technology shown at the fourth international SKA forum in Canada in July.
“It was about both countries talking through the SKA and how it works,” Hancock said.
“We linked up five telescopes — one in Auckland, New Zealand, one in Tasmania and one each at Coonabarabran, Parkes and Narrabri in New South Wales.”
The demonstration brings AARNet a step closer in achieving increased speeds across its network, with the trial sending data across a newly-built fibre network.
“The trial is really a step towards achieving even higher capacities, like our 100gigs target,” Hancock said.
“It allowed us to show we had the network running all the way from Boolardy, which is 300km north-east inland from Geraldton to the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory (MRO), and we link back to Curtin University to correlate the data.”
Hancock said Australia and New Zealand’s bid may have an advantage over its South African rival because of AARNet's ability to build a larger network.
“As a national research network, our role is to always push ahead of the curb and I think in Australia, its probably world leading because the fibre distance between Adelaide and Perth is getting to be around 2700 kilometres,” Hancock said.
“Doing these network transfers of data over large distances is an exciting thing that’s probably not been replicated anywhere else in the world.”
The next stage in the SKA project for AARNet is the expansion of its fibre network from Adelaide to Perth.
“We will be doing further trials at a later stage, and we already have equipment on order and are moving fast towards those,” he said.
“We will be looking at 100 gig trials and when we get the upgrade to the optical network from Adelaide to Perth, we’ll be able to provide 80 channels, each capable of 100 gig, so that’s an 8 terabit per second network.”
The rollout of the fibre network between Perth and Geraldton began in May last year, with the link connecting the Pawsey Centre high performance computing hub run by iVEC and hosted on CSIRO's Perth campus.
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