World’s largest radio telescope to be built after almost 30 years of planning

Tereza Pultarova – Senior Writer for space.com

PEERING INTO THE PAST: The Square Kilometer Array radio telescope will be located on sites in Australia and South Africa Picture: SKAO

Construction of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) observatory, which is set to become the largest radio telescope ever built, will finally commence after nearly 30 years of preparations.

Work on the two sites in Australia and South Africa, where the two separate parts of the radio telescope network will be built, is set to begin today, July 1, representatives of the SKA Organisation (SKAO) announced at the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) on Tuesday June 29.

The telescope, which will listen to radio signals in the vast range of frequencies between 70 MHz to at least 25 GHz, will have a total collecting area of one square kilometre. Instead of relying on a single extremely large dish, it will consist of a precisely designed network of dishes and antennas distributed across its two sites. The SKA-Mid array, to be located in the Karoo desert in South Africa, will use 197 dishes, each 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter, to listen to the middle-frequency bands. The SKA-Low array, listening to the lower frequency bands, will consist of 131,072 antennas located in Western Australia north of Perth.

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