Construction to start on world’s largest radio telescopes in Australia and South Africa

(Photo: ICRAR)

Construction is set to start on the largest and most complex networks of radio telescopes ever built.

Member states of the SKA Observatory (SKAO) – headquartered in the UK –  have approved the start of construction of the SKA telescopes in Australia and South Africa. The two telescopes, currently designated SKA-Low and SKA-Mid, names which describe the radio frequency range they each cover.

The decision to approve construction follows the creation of the SKAO as an intergovernmental organisation earlier this year, and the publication of two key documents, the Observatory’s Construction Proposal and Observatory Establishment & Delivery Plan, last year. The documents are the culmination of over seven years of design and engineering work by more than 500 experts from 20 countries to develop and test the technologies needed to build and operate the telescopes. Eleven international consortia representing more than 100 institutions including research labs, universities and companies from around the world, designed the antennas, networks, computing, software and infrastructure needed for the telescopes to function.

“I am ecstatic. This moment has been 30 years in the making,” said SKAO director-general Professor Philip Diamond. “Today, humankind is taking another giant leap by committing to build what will be the largest science facility of its kind on the planet; not just one but the two largest and most complex radio telescope networks, designed to unlock some of the most fascinating secrets of our universe.”

Read more at The Construction Index