The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area.
Both South Africa’s Karoo region and Western Australia’s Murchison Shire were chosen as co-hosting locations for many scientific and technical reasons, from the atmospherics above the sites, through to the radio quietness, which comes from being some of the most remote locations on Earth.
10 member countries are the cornerstone of the SKA: Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. At the same time around 100 organisations across about 20 countries are participating in the design and development of the SKA. World leading scientists and engineers designing and developing a system which will require supercomputers faster than any in existence in 2015, and network technology that will generate more data traffic than the entire Internet.
The SKA will be developed over a phased timeline. Pre-construction development started in 2012 and will last until the latter half of this decade, involving the detailed design, implementation, R&D work, and contract preparation needed to bring the SKA’s first phase to construction readiness. The SKA will start conducting science observations in the mid-2020s with a partial array.