Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO)

On February 2, 2022, India inked an interim agreement to confirm its commitment for working on mega science project called “Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO)”.

Highlights

  • The agreement will be valid for one year.
  • The Cooperation Agreement between India and SKA was signed virtually.
  • India was represented by TIFR – National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA).

About Square Kilometre Array Observatory

  • SKAO is proposed to be world’s largest radio telescope.
  • This project will facilitate India in making its first monetary contribution towards construction phase of SKA.
  • SKA will be built in Australia and South Africa.
  • It is headquartered in the United Kingdom.
  • Apart from three host countries, viz., Italy, China and France; Switzerland and Canada are among countries building SKAO.
  • SKAO is likely to be operational by the end of this decade.

Is India a member country of SKA?

India is a participating country in the setting up of world’s largest radio telescope. However, it is yet to receive central government’s approval to become a Member Country.

SKA Council

In December 2020, the SKA Organisation became SKA Council. It is an umbrella body to plan, oversee and undertake the construction of SKA Observatory. It also manages operations of facility in decades to come.

Background of Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

SKA is an intergovernmental radio telescope project. It is being built in Australia and South Africa. It was started in 1990s, and further developed and designed by late-2010s. after completion, it will have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre. It will operate across a wide range of frequencies. Its size will make it 50 times more sensitive as compared to any other radio instrument. It will require very high-performance central computing engines as well as long-haul links. If it is built as planned, it would be able to survey the sky about ten thousand times faster than before.

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