Key players

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Organisations from eleven countries are currently members of the SKA Organisation – Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Further countries have expressed their interest in joining the SKA Organisation which will continue to expand over the coming years.

The international organisation’s central facility is situated at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank in the United Kingdom.

Thousands of SKA antenna dishes will be built in South Africa (in the Karoo, not far from Carnarvon), with outstations in other parts of South Africa, as well as in eight African partner countries, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Another part of the telescope, the low-frequency array, plus more dishes, will be built in Western Australia.

Find out more about participating countries.

Location

The SKA is being hosted in Africa and in Western Australia.

The Africa component will comprise about 3 000 dish-shaped antennae spread over many thousands of square kilometres. The core of the telescope will lie in the Northern Cape’s Karoo region, with outlying stations spread throughout South Africa, and in Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar and Mauritius.

Radio telescopes must be located as far away as possible from man-made electronics or machines that emit radio waves that will interfere with the faint radio signals coming from the distant Universe. The site should also be as high and dry as possible, because some radio waves are absorbed by the moisture in our atmosphere.

South African government have stated they believe locating the project here will allow for economic development and upskilling of scientists as well as empowering local communities, who will be employed in the project.

The South African location:

Read more on the locations

Projected timeline

Projected milestones for SKA South Africa

  • 2014 – 2017: Building the 64-dish MeerKAT array (while design and planning for SKA is underway)
  • 2017 – 2020: Construction of SKA Phase 1 (scientists can already do research with MeerKAT)
  • 2020 – 2024: Construction of SKA Phase 2 (Including outstations in African partner countries)
  • 2024: The SKA is ready to do research

Construction of Phase 1 will take place from 2018 to 2023 providing an operational array of telescopes capable of carrying out the first science in low and mid frequencies. Phase 2 and the high frequency dishes will then follow providing full sensitivity for frequencies up to 20 GHz.

The following image shows a graphical representation of some of the key points in the evolution of the SKA

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