The ribbon has officially been cut on one of the world's biggest supercomputers as it is prepared to play a crucial role in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio astronomy project.
The supercomputer at the Pawsey Centre in Perth, named after pioneering Australian radio astronomer Dr Joe Pawsey, is already processing data from the low-frequency precursor to the SKA, the recently commissioned Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia's Mid West region.
It is capable of performing a mind-boggling one million billion (one trillion) calculations a second.
"This new facility will help scientists meet the challenges of storing, processing, transferring and manipulating the vast amounts of data the SKA telescope will collect," WA Premier Colin Barnett said.
The SKA is one of the world's largest and most ambitious science projects, spanning WA, New Zealand and South Africa, and is at the detailed design phase.
Radio astronomers will use the SKA to understand how stars and galaxies were formed, how they evolved over time, and perhaps to detect life elsewhere in the universe.
Beyond radio astronomy, the Pawsey Centre will be used to manage and process large amounts of data from other disciplines, Barnett said.
He said data science capabilities developed for radio astronomy had other important applications such as finding mineral deposits across vast stretches of outback, finding new ways to preserve rare species, analysing the effect of genes on health, and modelling coral reef systems.