SKA project

The SKA Observatory (SKAO) is a global collaboration to build and operate the SKA telescopes, the world’s largest and most capable radio telescopes.

During its more than 50 year lifetime, the SKA Observatory will expand our understanding of the Universe and drive technological developments worldwide.

The SKAO is an Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) headquartered in the United Kingdom. Australia and South Africa will each host SKA telescopes.

  • SKA-Low will be hosted by Australia and consist of an array of 131,072 Christmas tree-shaped antennas.
  • SKA-Mid will be hosted by South Africa and consist of an array of 197 dish antennas.

The two SKA telescopes will operate separately, but with their data processing centres and the UK-based headquarters they form a single observatory. Construction on both SKA telescopes is due to commence later in 2022.

CONTACT magazine April 2022 cover with a radio image showing a bright wispy patch of sky in reds and oranges on a greyscale background.

Science and engineering teams around the world are working on prototypes and systems in the final sprint towards construction of the SKA telescopes. More information and great stories can be found in the SKAO magazine CONTACT.

Australian participation

The SKA project is the first mega-science project Australia will host and is an exciting opportunity to build on our expertise and investment in radio astronomy facilities, research and technologies.

The Australian Government coordinates Australia’s involvement in the SKA project through the Australia SKA Office in the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), supported by the Australian SKA Coordinating Committee.

To date, the Australian and Western Australian Governments have invested more than $400 million in infrastructure and capability building to support the development of Australia’s radio astronomy sector and capitalise on the SKA opportunity.

Australia is a founding member of the SKA Observatory with more than a dozen countries participating in the project globally.

At CSIRO we have expertise in domains such as remote operations and designing infrastructure to manage large data volumes, which are critical to the SKA project and have spin-off benefits to industry and the economy.

Hosting the SKA

The SKA-Low Telescope will be hosted in Western Australia at our Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO). South Africa will host the mid frequency telescope, SKA-Mid, in the Karoo region.

The traditional owners of the MRO site, the Wajarri Yamatji, play an important role in enabling Australia to co-host the SKA. Together with the Australian SKA Office, we are working with the Wajarri Yamatji to negotiate a land use agreement to realise the SKA Project on Wajarri Yamatji country.