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24th of January 2022
Switzerland joins the SKAO
It was announced last week that Switzerland has joined the SKA Observatory, becoming the first country to join the intergovernmental organisation’s founding Members by acceding to the SKAO Convention. This brings the Observatory’s membership to eight countries, with Switzerland joining Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Swiss involvement will be led by a strong consortium of research institutions, on behalf of the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI). Under a successful cooperation agreement with the SKAO signed in June 2021, the prestigious science and technology university École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), handled management functions on behalf of the country’s academic community, which now forms a large part of the consortium. The EPFL will continue to do so as Switzerland’s participation as a Member commences.

Switzerland has been significantly involved in the SKA project over the past five years, gaining observer status in the SKA Organisation (the SKAO’s forerunner) in 2016. A 2020 white paper titled Swiss Interests and Contribution to the SKA detailed the national motivations behind joining the SKAO, and outlined the wide range of fundamental SKA science in which the Swiss astrophysics community will be taking part. Switzerland has world-class industry expertise in high-performance computing, data processing, antennas and radio receivers, and precise time management through the use of maser atomic clocks, and plans contributions to the SKA telescopes in these and other areas. (Image and text credit: SKAO)

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