Dr. Ewan Barr (University of Bonn)
James Clerk Maxwell once wrote: “In every branch of knowledge the progress is proportional to the amount of facts on which to build, and therefore to the facility of obtaining data”. This maxim is particularly true in astronomy, where to probe deeper into the Universe we must continually seek to build more powerful telescopes that produce ever more data. In the case of radio astronomy, “powerful” implies larger collecting areas, broader bandwidths and wider fields-of-view. Interferometers, networks of telescopes unified via high performance computing, are the means by which we may satisfy this trio of requirements. In this talk I will discuss the largest of all the currently planned interferometers, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an instrument that will produce petabytes of data per second and require exascale computation. I will look at the challenges this instrument poses and the tools, techniques, prototypes and pathfinders in development to ensure that these challenges are met successfully.