After over 3 decades of planning, the installation of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) observatory is finally set to begin this year. Upon completion, it will become the biggest radio telescope ever made. In February, the nations that are backing the project created the telescope’s governing body, SKAO. Construction on the locations in South Africa and Australia, where the two distinct sections of this telescope network are being built, is expected to commence in July. The members of SKA Organization (SKAO) announced the plan at the European Astronomical Society (EAS) annual conference on 29th of June. The telescope’s $1.55 billion (€1.3 billion) development and the $0.83 billion (€0.7 billion) necessary for the first decade of operations are jointly funded by SKAO’s 16 member nations.
The telescopes will have a combined collecting area of a square kilometer and will monitor radio signals at frequencies ranging from 70 MHz to at least 25 GHz. Rather than depending on one large dish, it will be comprised of a carefully planned network of antennas and dishes dispersed between both its locations. The SKA-Mid array, which will be situated in South Africa’s Karoo desert, will utilize 197 dishes, each one 50 feet in diameter, to monitor middle-frequency bands. The SKA-Low array comprises 131,072 antennas positioned in the north of Perth, monitoring to lower frequency bands.
The SKAO Council officially authorized the development last week. Philip Diamond, SKAO director-general, expressed his excitement regarding this project. The telescope will be capable of detecting objects so far away that radio waves will take 13 billion years to reach telescope. The facility will offer insights into the early steps of the Universe’s emergence. It is ideally positioned to solve certain lingering issues regarding the development of galaxies. The telescope will provide a chance to begin investigating the raw material behind the evolution and genesis of luminous bodies from the cosmological beginning to the present.
According to their website, SKAO was initially suggested by the International Union of Radio Science in 1993. It is intended to deliver photos of greater resolution than those captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. This telescope will capture around 13 TBs of data every second, which is comparable to downloading three hundred 4k films per second. The information will be far more complex than previously recorded radio pictures and radio data, as the telescopes can view deeper in space compared to existing radio telescopes could. As a result, the pictures will be very crowded, with galaxies overlaying one another. This observatory is set to begin making initial research observations in 2024, when the first two sub-arrays are completed, according to a schedule provided with the announcement. SKAO aims to eventually upgrade this telescope to encompass hundreds of thousands of antennas and hundreds of dishes.