SKA Telescope

World Largest Radio Telescope SKA

The world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope will be shared by South Africa and Australia, project organizers announced on May 25.

Both nations had been vying to host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a future mega-scope that will connect 3,000 separate radio dishes, each about 50 feet (15 meters) wide. But SKA officials have now decided to spread the project over both sites, rather than pick one over the other. The SKA’s many receptors will be arrayed in spiral arms extending out at least 1,864 miles (3,000 kilometers) from a central core, officials have said. The 1.5-billion-euro (roughly $2 billion) construction project is slated to begin in 2016, with the SKA’s first science operations starting three years later. The array is expected to be fully operational by 2024. According to SKA the enormous array will have 50 times the sensitivity and 10,000 times the survey speed of the best current-day telescopes. The instrument will allow scientists to investigate a variety of questions, including how the first stars and galaxies formed, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe and the nature of gravity. Both Australia and South Africa have begun building large radio telescope arrays designed to serve as precursors to the SKA the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the Karoo Array Telescope (known as MeerKAT), respectively. The ASKAP and MeerKAT dishes will be incorporated into the SKA, to maximize on investments already made by both Australia and South Africa.