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Australian organisations win funding to help design world’s largest radio telescope

28 May 2013, Canberra, Australia –  The Australian Government has made almost $19 million available to Australian organisations to help design the ground-breaking international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

Co-hosted in Australia and South Africa, the SKA will be the world’s largest radio telescope. It is being funded by countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas as well as Australia and New Zealand.

“This is a gigantic international science project that will change the way astronomy is done world-wide, and it will be co-hosted here in Australia,” Minister for Science and Research Senator Don Farrell said. “These grants will help Australian organisations to win the opportunity to work with leading international players on the design of the SKA and, by doing so, demonstrate our world-class research and development capabilities.”

The grants are conditional upon the recipients being selected by the international SKA Organisation to undertake SKA work packages, worth around $114 million. An announcement of the successful tenderers will be made later this year.

By awarding these grants, the Government has secured more than $17.5 million in co-investment from the successful organisations.

Importantly, the funding will go beyond the recipients and support collaborative activity with other Australian companies – activity that will engage a breadth of industry from manufacturing to renewable energy.

Full details of the recipients and work-packages are available here.

Media release is available here.

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

Members of the SKA Organisation as of May 2013:

  • Australia: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
  • Canada: National Research Council
  • China: Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Germany: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • Italy: National Institute for Astrophysics
  • Netherlands: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
  • New Zealand: Ministry of Economic Development
  • Republic of South Africa: National Research Foundation
  • Sweden: Onsala Space Observatory
  • United Kingdom: Science and Technology Facilities Council

Associate member:

  • India: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics

SKA website: www.skatelescope.org

Media contacts for this release. Minister’s office: +61 2 6277 7580

Contact for SKA Australia:
Jerry Skinner, SKA Australia Communications Manager. Email: Jerry.Skinner@innovation.gov.au. Phone: +61 2 6213 6298

Contact for SKA Organisation:
William Garnier, SKA Chief Communications Officer. Email: w.garnier@skatelescope.org. Phone: +44 (0) 161 306 9613 and + 44 (9) 7814 908 932

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