Scientists and engineers from over 20 countries have been designing and building the world’s largest and most capable radio telescope. It’s one of humanity’s biggest scientific endeavours and will open up endless possibilities to expand our understanding of the universe.
The SKA telescope consists of many thousands of antennas collecting signals on both sides of the globe. It will be more than 10 times more sensitive and much faster at surveying other galaxies than any current radio telescope.
Australia’s SKA telescope will pick up low frequency data from a remote site in Western Australia, far away from towns and radio interference. Its 131,072 antennas will spread across 65km. Another telescope will monitor mid frequency radio waves via hundreds of dishes in South Africa.
Together the telescopes will help answer some of our biggest questions about the universe:
- Why is the universe expanding?
- What did the young universe look like?
- Is there life beyond Earth? And what does it look like?
- Does Einstein's general relativity hold in the most extreme areas of the universe?
The data telescopes collect will be processed using supercomputing facilities with several times the processing speed of any current supercomputer. Construction of the telescopes will start in early 2022 and take around 7 years to complete.
You can view the Australian SKA site at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory online.
The virtual tour shows 360 degree views of key locations and includes information about the telescopes and their precursors. You can also look inside the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth.