SKA Observatory gets go-ahead
The convention to establish the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) has been approved, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology announced.
This follows news that the international engineering consortium tasked with planning the assembly, integration and verification of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has formally completed its work.
In a statement, the committee explains the SKAO is the inter-governmental organisation (IGO) that will be responsible for constructing and operating the SKA radio telescope.
In addition, the statement says the observatory will be unique in that it will be the first science-focused IGO, which will comprise membership from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia and Europe.
Chairperson Philly Mapulane says: “The adoption by the committee of the convention establishing the Square Kilometre Array Observatory represents a signification development in the process of formal ratification by Parliament of this important international protocol that will facilitate the biggest scientific collaboration the world has ever seen, and will further help to attract foreign direct investment into our country.”
The SKA project is an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope, led by the SKA Organisation.
The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of thousands of antennas to be spread over 3 000km. It will be co-located in Africa and Australia, with the African component comprising SA as the core region, with Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
Once it is completed, the radio telescope will conduct transformational science to improve the understanding of the universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.
Last year, the MeerKAT radio telescope, the 64-dish SKA precursor telescope, was officially launched.