Square Kilometre Array

Participation in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) program [external link] is a strategic priority for CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. Our experience operating world-class radio telescopes, as well as our strengths in technology development and radio astronomy research, have already enabled us to make significant contributions towards planning for the SKA. In addition, the CSIRO-run Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory has been selected as the central site for major components of SKA telescope infrastructure in Australia; SKA telescope infrastructure will also be deployed in southern Africa.

What is the SKA?

The SKA radio telescope is an international project to build the world's largest radio telescope; consisting of thousands of antennas linked together by high bandwidth optical fibre.

The SKA will be 50 times as sensitive as the best existing radio telescopes and will have a survey speed 10,000 times faster than its nearest current-day rival—enabling it to carry out research more quickly than ever before. It aims to address fundamental questions about the evolution of the Universe including the formation of black holes, the origins of the first stars and the generation of magnetic fields in space.

The SKA program is being led by the international SKA Organisation [external link], a not-for-profit company with its headquarters in Manchester, UK.

The telescope will be implemented across two main sites: the Murchison region in Western Australia and southern Africa.

The SKA will be developed over a phase timeline; pre-construction development is underway and will continue through to the latter half of this decade, involving detailed design, implementation, R&D work, and contract preparation needed to bring the SKA's first phase to construction readiness.

The main bulk of the SKA will be built in two phases, with the first phase (SKA1) involving testing of the full system in a 'proof of concept' manner. As part of SKA1, Australia will host the SKA1-Low and SKA1-Survey components of the SKA. The 36 antennas of CSIRO's ASKAP telescope will be integrated into SKA1-Survey. The 64-dish MeerKAT SKA precursor in South Africa will be incoporated into the mid-frequency component of SKA1, built in South Africa.

CSIRO involvement in the SKA

CSIRO works with the Australian and New Zealand governments, and the SKA Organisation, to progress the SKA project.

CSIRO's current involvement in the SKA includes:

 

Projects
Public