The SKA: a new observatory to explore the universe

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the most ambitious radio astronomy project in history.
Ariel photo of the SKA in outback Autralia, showing a series of large discs with antenna

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the most ambitious radio astronomy project in history.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the most ambitious radio astronomy project in history. It seeks to answer some of the biggest questions about the universe.

The SKA spans 2 continents, and will be located in outback Western Australia and the Karoo region of South Africa.

The project would not be possible without global collaboration. Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have joined the SKA Organisation. More countries have expressed interest and the international network will continue to expand.

This video, produced by the SKA Organisation, showcases the observatory and features interviews with engineers, astronomers and team leaders around the world.


What did the Universe look like when the first galaxies formed?

How are planets formed?

How many gravitational waves are passing through me right now?

And for me the most important – is there life out there?

We’re building what will be the largest science facility ever built by mankind.

What we’re talking about is two telescopes.

These are going to spread out over literally hundreds of kilometres.

It’ll stretch out beyond the horizon.

Our site’s the middle of the Western Australia desert, far away from towns, radio interference.

We’re building hundreds of dishes in a remote location in the middle of South Africa.

It’s a hot environment, it’s a dry environment, it’s really tough.

Projects like this can only happen when we work together on a global scale.

We need astronomers to define the scope of the instrument.

We’ve got to get 500 engineers to work together over 20 countries in all the time zones in the world.

How do we build this?

It’s like building a jigsaw puzzle but the pieces keep changing.

Part A being designed in one place fits to Part B being designed literally on the other side of the world.

We’ve already started, we’ve got antennas at the site.

There’s equipment on the ground in South Africa and Australia.

Imagine the amount of data that’s flowing through the internet at any one moment.

Huge amounts of data.

That kind of level coming out steadily.

About a terabyte of data per second.

We’ll have total of 100,000 kilometres of dedicated fibre within the Observatory.

But the greatest computing burden is to take those data streams and to make sense of them.

Every year we’ll be distributing up to 700 petabytes of data.

There’s this huge range of science we’ll be tackling there’s the technology that needs to be developed to do that science.

Practically every subject of astrophysics can advance thanks to SKA.

It’s from science, to technology, to societal benefits, this is what engages countries.

SKA is a project that will be used for 20, 30, 50 years.

You want to be part of this fantastic adventure of the human mind.

I believe we're truly on the threshold of the future.

Science speaks all languages and connects the entire world.

This signature is the real beginning.

I think people will look back and think this is the moment the SKA Observatory was created.

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