The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global big-science project to build the world’s largest and most capable radio telescope. During its more than 50 year lifetime, the SKA will expand our understanding of the universe and drive technological developments worldwide.
The project is in the pre-construction phase.
A global collaboration
Australia and South Africa will each host SKA telescopes. The SKA Organisation leads the global project. It is headquartered in the United Kingdom and comprises organisations from 13 countries.
The Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) will host the low frequency part of the telescope, SKA-low. South Africa will host the mid frequency component, SKA-mid. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) operates the MRO. The SKA-low will be spread across an area spanning 65km and will consist of 130,000 antennas.
The SKA site is:
located in remote Western Australia, around 800km north of Perth
situated on part of the ancestral lands of the Wajarri Yamaji people
The Wajarri Yamaji have played an important role in enabling Australia to co-host the SKA. The Australian SKA Office and CSIRO are working with the Wajarri Yamaji to negotiate a land use agreement to access the site and realise the SKA Project on Wajarri Yamaji country.
Designing the SKA
Groups from all around the world are working together to design and deliver the telescope infrastructure.
Radio astronomy has led to the development of new technologies with applications in important fields such as computer science, medical imaging, and advanced manufacturing. Similarly, the SKA is expected to generate spin-off technologies with broad applications.
Astronomers will analyse SKA data to realise the SKA science goals. The unprecedented flow of data from the antennas will require supercomputing power surpassing today’s best technology. The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia will house the facility.