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Australia expands commitment to world’s largest telescope

Stephen Kuper

Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology Karen Andrews has announced Australia is another step closer to helping create the world’s largest radio telescope, which will allow further exploration of the universe while creating jobs in Western Australia and growing the economy.

Australia expands commitment to world’s largest telescope
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Minister Andrews confirmed that Australia has ratified the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory Convention.

Under the convention, WA will host 130,000 antennas and South Africa 200 dishes – together making the telescope that will allow astronomers to view the cosmos in more detail than ever before.

“Australians should be proud that our country will be a host of the world’s largest scientific instrument, which will help shape our understanding of the beginning of the universe,” Minister Andrews said.

Australia is the fourth country to ratify the SKA Observatory Convention. The Australian component of the SKA, SKA-Low, will be the world’s most sensitive low frequency radio telescope.

“Not only does the project further cement Australia’s reputation for science and research and boost our international standing in radio astronomy, it also has the potential to create 200 construction jobs in regional Western Australia and Perth and a further 100 permanent positions,” Minister Andrews said.

Hosted at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, it will initially comprise more than 130,000 antennas spread over 65 kilometres in remote Western Australia.

“The SKA will also boost Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector, enabling local businesses to partner with international counterparts and design and build high-tech telescope components,” Minister Andrews explained.

WA Minister for Science Dave Kelly MLA said today marks an important milestone for the SKA Observatory Convention and for Western Australia’s role in co-hosting one of the biggest science projects in human history.

“Australia’s ratification of the convention enhances Western Australia’s position as global hub for radio astronomy, and will offer significant economic and job creating opportunities for the state,” Minister Kelly said.

“Just over a decade ago we had a handful of astronomers working in WA and now there are around 135 astronomers, 25 engineers and 25 data scientists working in WA on the SKA project and in astronomical research, with more to come.”

The project is expected to move into the construction phase in mid-2021.

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