Maiden Council to meet today to finalize SKA, world’s largest radio telescope

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The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council will hold its maiden meeting on Thursday, thereby officially approving the establishment of the proposed world’s largest radio telescope.

The SKAO, an array of numerous telescopes built across South Africa and Australia, will have its headquarters in the United Kingdom.

Along with these three host nations, India, Germany, France, Canada, China, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Malta are the participating member countries collaborating for this mega-science project.

In December last year, the UK ratified an international treaty Convention which was required towards setting up of the SKAO Council — an umbrella body to plan, oversee and undertake on-site civil construction and manage future operations of the telescope. Prior to this, similar ratification was done by The Netherlands, Portugal, Australia, South Africa and Italy.

Seen as a historic day, the virtual meeting is expected to see deliberations pertaining to the on-site construction and allied decisions needed to be fulfilled in near future. This will also include drafting rules and regulations, policy and working modalities of the facility in addition to finalizing the project proposal.

During the period of the next ten years, it is estimated that 1.8 Billion Euro will be spent towards the phase I construction of the telescope. India has proposed to fund about 6 per cent of the total SKA budget.

Over 20 national-level research institutions from India, through the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), will be contributing towards this telescope facility.

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