07/10/2012 07:15 BST

Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder Telescope Launched To Study Origins Of Universe (VIDEO)

The Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), the world's fastest telescope, was officially launched in the wilderness of Western Australia on Friday, hoping to shed light on the great mysteries of the universe.

The vast array of 36 antennas, each 40 feet across, will pick up radio signals from deep within space giving astronomers an unprecedented view of black holes, supernovas and far-off galaxies.

The ASKAP will be able to scan an area 150 times the size of the full moon far quicker than anything in operation today.

The ASKAP will form part of the much larger SKA project

Australia's Science Minister Chris Evans said: "The thing that is most telling for me is we have not yet built a computer that can cope with the data we will generate.

"We are going to have to design and build a super computer way beyond the super computers we have now, way beyond that capability to deal with the amount of data."

In one day of operation the ASKAP will generate more data than is currently held in all of the world's astronomy archives.

The isolated location of the ASKAP, in the Shire of Murchison, is crucial to its operation. The Shire is the size of Costa Rica but has a population of only 120, meaning the area has very little radio interference from other man-made devices.

Despite the technological breakthroughs, the project is far from complete. Another 60 antennas will be added to the ASKAP as it becomes part of what will be the world's largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The SKA will be split between Australia and a site in South Africa. Work begins in 2016.