One of the great scientific projects of the 21st century begins its construction phase today. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the world’s largest radio telescope when it is completed in 2028.
Split between South Africa and Australia and headquartered in the UK, the facility will tackle the biggest questions in astrophysics.
It will conduct the most sensitive tests of Einstein’s theories and even search for aliens.
Delegations from the eight countries leading the project will attend opening ceremonies today at Murchison Shire in Western Australia and the Karoo in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
Once the ceremonies are over, the bulldozers will be deployed to officially start the construction process.
UNPRECEDENTED PRECISION AND RESOLUTION
The initial architecture of the telescope will include some 200 parabolic antennas and 131,000 dipole antennas that resemble Christmas trees.
The goal is to create an effective collecting area of hundreds of thousands of square meters.
This will give the SKA unparalleled precision and resolution when studying targets in the sky.
The system will operate in a frequency range of roughly 50 megahertz to 25 gigahertz. In terms of wavelength, this is in the centimeter to meter range.
TRACE THE HISTORY OF HYDROGEN
One of the SKA’s big missions will be to trace the entire history of hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe.