Australia has ratified the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Convention.
This is the final step for Australia in becoming a founding member of the SKA Observatory. That’s the Intergovernmental Organisation that will build and operate the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescopes.
Australia joins South Africa, Italy and the Netherlands in finalising their countries’ preparations for the SKA Observatory. With the UK soon to complete ratification, the SKA Observatory will likely be established before the end of the year, with construction starting in 2021.
The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, announced the ratification. “Australians should be proud that our country will be a host of the world’s largest scientific instrument, which will help shape our understanding of the beginning of the universe.”
The SKA is a global mega-science project to build the world’s most capable radio telescopes.
It is an international effort, supported by 15 countries.
Australia was selected to host the low frequency part of the telescope in 2012.
Around 131,000 antennas will spread out over the horizon at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in remote Western Australia, around 800 km north of Perth. These antennas will be ideally positioned in the Australian Radio Quiet Zone WA protected from radio interference by electronic devices.
South Africa will host the mid-frequency element (SKA-Mid) in the Karoo, not far from the small town of Carnarvon.
The SKA will be vastly more sensitive than the best present-day instruments. The array will give astronomers remarkable insights into the formation of the early Universe, including the first stars, galaxies and other structures.