The Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest radio telescope co-located in South Africa’s Karoo, will begin infrastructure construction in 2022.
It will collect data from a one-square-kilometer radius, making it the most advanced radio telescope network in the world. Because of its size, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory reports that it is “50 times more sensitive” and “10,000 times faster” than existing radio telescopes (SARAO). The scope of the project warrants technological innovation in both science and engineering.
The facility, which is split between South Africa and Australia and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom, will address the most crucial astrophysical issues. The most precise tests of Einstein’s theories will be conducted, including the search for extraterrestrial life.
The Karoo region of the Northern Cape, near the town of Carnavon, is home to radio telescopes with antenna dishes. In addition to Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia, there will be outposts in other regions of South Africa and eight other African partner nations. The other component of the telescope will be erected in Western Australia, according to SARAO.
The SKA telescope procurement procedure has already begun, and seven founder nations have been awarded 27 contracts for €90 million (about R1.6 billion) to date. It is projected that by the end of the year, 85 percent of the 60 Tier 1 contracts for the project would have been issued, and more than €500 million (about R8.8 billion) will have been committed for construction funds.
The estimated total cost of the project is €2 billion (about R35 billion), which includes construction and the first ten years of operation. According to the SKA Organization’s website, the building is expected to extend until 2028. The telescopes will be employed in science for at least fifty years.