1670266637 origin 1

Australia begins construction of its giant radio telescope section

origin 1Artist’s impression of the radio project in Australia ©euronews

In Australia and South Africa, construction has begun on a network of antennas which, when completed, will together form the largest radio telescope in the world, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).

The giant intercontinental telescope is expected to produce scientific results that will change our understanding of the universe.

Both South Africa and Australia have huge tracts of land in remote areas with little radio disturbance, ideal for this type of installation.

The idea for the telescope was first conceived in the early 1990s, but the project has been plagued by delays, funding problems and diplomatic jockeying.

The SKA is based in the UK and has 14 members: Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The director general of the Square Kilometer Array Organization, Philip Diamond, described the start of its construction as “significant” saying it will be “one of the greatest scientific efforts ever undertaken by mankind”.

More than 130,000 Christmas tree-shaped antennas are planned in Western Australia to be built on traditional Wajarri Aboriginal lands. In South Africa, the site will feature nearly 200 antennas in the remote Karoo region.

The large distances between the antennas, and their number, mean the telescope will collect radio signals with unprecedented sensitivity as the SKA probes for targets in the sky.

“The two complementary telescopes will be ears on either side of the planet, allowing us to hear those murmurs from the deep universe that are driving such excitement in both sciences and deepen our understanding of the universe we live in and the origins of life.” ‘, says George Freeman, the UK’s Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation.

The construction of the SKA is expected to be completed in 2028.