Software foundations for exploring the universe

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an international science program to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope - an instrument that will be 50 times more sensitive than today’s most powerful radio telescopes. The SKA will allow scientists to investigate the evolution of galaxies, dark energy, gravity, cosmic magnetism and even seek signs of biological life on other planets.

The massive amount of data that the SKA will produce will require innovations in both software and hardware, and changes in the way scientists use astronomical data.

The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) selected ThoughtWorks to collaborate in an exploration of how science and the technology industry can work productively together, on a global scale. Over a period of months, several threads of inquiry were addressed to enable ICRAR and the scientific community to build a framework for reliable and maintainable software: including managing work distributed among many people and locations, designing for high data throughput and processing, distributed computing and data visualisation.

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