A giant radio telescope which has been switched on in remote WA will give scientists a better look at the beginnings of the universe.
9 Jul 2013 - 6:51 PM  UPDATED 27 Feb 2015 - 11:01 PM

Science minister Kim Carr has flicked the switch to turn on the most powerful low frequency radio telescope in the southern hemisphere.

Known as the Murchison Widefield Array or MWA, the telescope transmitted data images of the sun rising over Western Australia to Melbourne.

Situated in north east of Geraldton, the MWA consists of a 128 tiles, spread across 3 kilometres.

It can survey the entire radio spectrum every few seconds and pick up radio waves up to 13 billion years old.

A joint project by Australian, American, Indian and New Zealand scientists, it is one of three telescopes to be rolled out over the next decade in the southern hemisphere.

Project director Stephen Tingay says the telescope could reveal and explain the mysteries of our universe.

"Ninety-five percent of the universe is in two mysterious forms, dark matter and and what we call dark energy. And physics is really currently trying to strive to try and answer the question of what is this 95 percent of the universe," said Professor Tingay.

The technology will also help us track space junk threatening satellites, and also monitor the sun's solar storms.

"Solar storm activity is set to peak later in 2013. A major solar storm could cause trillion of dollars of damage to our communications and satellite technology. The MWA will act as our eye in the sky to warn us of this type of activity," said Professor Tingay.

It's a new tool to not only warn of threats from space, but one that may solve some of the great unknowns of the universe.