Australia’s commitment to construction of world’s largest telescope to create huge opportunities for industry

Australia’s commitment to construction of world’s largest telescope to create huge opportunities for industry

Louis Dillon

Seven nations, including Australia, have signed an international treaty for the construction of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest science facility, which will see up to $1 billion worth of construction contracts go up for grabs.

The Australian component of the SKA, SKA-Low, will be hosted at the CSIRO's Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in remote Western Australia, and will initially comprise of 130,000 antennas.

It will be the world's most sensitive low frequency radio telescope.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Australia is "perfectly positioned to host the low frequency element of the telescope".

“The signing of the international treaty is an incredible achievement for all countries involved and reinforces Australia’s leading role in this global project,” Minister Andrews said.

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“Many great advancements in science can be attributed to exploration and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Through this venture, our scientists will have access to data that will help unlock the mysteries of the universe.

“Australia will also be in a prime position to contribute to the design of new technologies, such as when CSIRO invented Wi-Fi as part of its work on radio astronomy.”

The convention was signed by Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa and the UK, and up to $1 billion worth of contracts will be awarded to companies and providers from these member countries from late 2020, for the construction of SKA.

Australia has committed to invest $293 million over 10 years "towards building and initially operating the SKA, demonstrating our commitment to supporting our home grown science and research capabilities".

The SKA Observatory will make the "final decisions" on the design as well as co-ordinating the contracts required to build and operate the telescope, as well as the associated infrastructure.

More to come. 

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