Construction approved to begin for SKA telescopes in Australia and South Africa

Composite image of the SKA combining all elements in South Africa and Australia, blending photos of existing hardware at both sites with artist’s impressions of the future SKA antennas. From left: artist’s impression of the future SKA dishes and existing precursor MeerKAT telescope dishes in South Africa. From right: artist’s impression of the future SKA-Low stations blends into the existing AAVS2.0 prototype station in Western Australia. Credit: SKA Observatory.

At a recent meeting of the SKA Observatory (SKAO) at its headquarters in the UK, the SKAO Member States formally approved the start of construction for the two SKA telescopes, to be located in Australia and South Africa. Australia’s low-frequency telescope, to be known as SKA-Low, will consist of approximately 130,000 antennas spanning an area with a diameter of 65km. Based at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in WA, SKA-Low will combine with South Africa’s SKA-Mid to become the world’s largest radio telescope.

Not only will the SKA allow us to look back 13.8 billion years to watch the first stars and galaxies form, it will also allow Australian astronomers to be at the forefront of astronomical discoveries with access to world-leading SKA science facilities and data. Australian businesses will also lead construction of SKA infrastructure locally and contribute to the development of new technologies used in the SKA.

The SKA is supported by 15 countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The Australia-New Zealand SKA Coordination Committee (ANZSCC) supports Australia’s involvement in the global SKA project. AAL is a project partner and member of the ANZSCC through expert member and AAL CEO Mark McAuley.

Please contact Mark for more information about AAL and Australia’s role in the SKA Observatory.