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Construction of World’s Largest Radio Observatory on Earth’s History Begins

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is a highly sensitive, next-generation radio observatory that has already begun to take shape. The largest radio observatory will be built in South Africa and Australia.

The dual-site science facility is expected to grow to be one of the biggest on Earth. It will also give astronomers a new way to investigate some of the most fundamental issues about the cosmos.

Most Powerful Radio Telescope

Astronomers from around the world came together in the 1980s to explore how radio waves can reveal information about the origin of the universe, and they came up with the idea for the SKA Observatory, which has been in development for about three decades.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organization chose two locations in South Africa and Australia in 2012 to co-host the facility, utilizing the absence of man-made radio waves in rural areas for precise cosmological measurements.

Astronomers will be able to explore some of the very first secrets of the universe thanks to the SKA Observatory.

At the Australian site, in Wajarri Country in Western Australia, more than 100,000 antennas will be used to do this. In addition, 197 dishes will be used in Karoo, South Africa, where the predecessor MeerKAT telescope is already operational.

Upon completion, the SKA Observatory will be the largest radio astronomical observatory in the world. Ceremonies to honor the start of construction will be held in both locations on Monday.

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Largest Radio Observatory Planned Years Ago

Construction-World-Largest-Radio Observatory-Earth-History-Telescope
The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which will be built in South Africa and Australia, is a highly sensitive, next-generation radio observatory that has already begun to take shape.

The first massive SKA-Mid dishes will start to be built on Monday as well. In the arid Karoo region of South Africa, these will combine to build a network of 197 antennas that will span around 150 kilometers.

Four will be finished in 2024, and by 2028, there will be many more added. Additionally, SKA-Mid will include the 64-dish MeerKAT telescope, which is currently present on the site.

Using MeerKAT data, an international team published the most accurate depiction of the Milky Way’s center and images of mysterious radio threads emanating from the galaxy’s black hole in early 2022.

As part of an expansion project, the South African government and the Max Planck Society in Germany are installing 20 more dishes in the telescope. The integration of MeerKAT with SKA-Mid won’t happen until the project’s completion in 2027.

However, according to Pontsho Maruping, director of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cape Town, the development of SKA-Mid will obstruct MeerKAT observations.

Moreover, radio waves released by moving objects and communication equipment are especially perceptible to radio telescopes. Up until 2027, when it will be merged into SKA-Mid, MeerKAT will keep observing.

Contracts must be awarded to member countries’ industries to the tune of 70%. Currently, the organization has eight full members: Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. France intends to join as well.

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