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European Commission identifies SKA as a landmark project

Wednesday 20 April 2016, SKA Headquarters, UK – The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has been identified as a Landmark Project by the European Commission in its recently published research infrastructure Roadmap 2016, as part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

“Our status as an ESFRI Landmark Project recognises the SKA as a major research infrastructure for Europe. Delivering the world’s largest radio telescope requires international collaboration at European and indeed global level, and we look forward to further European participation in the SKA.” said Prof. Philip Diamond, SKA Organisation Director-General.

ESFRI identifies research facilities of pan-European importance that are necessary to strengthen scientific excellence and competitiveness in the EU. These facilities are of such a magnitude that they cannot be provided at national level: large telescopes, particle accelerators, neutrino detectors, biobanks, large data facilities for Humanities research, etc. Landmark projects are research infrastructures that have been implemented or have started implementation.

“The 29 ESFRI Landmarks which have now reached the implementation phase are pan-European hubs of scientific excellence, generating new ideas and pushing the boundaries of science and technology. They are important pillars of European research and innovation for the next decades and they will require continuous support to fulfil their mission and ensure their long-term sustainability.” declared Prof. John Womersley, chair of ESFRI.

In parallel to the ESFRI process, a growing number of EU countries have prepared national roadmaps that establish the prioritisation of national and pan-European research infrastructures, using the ESFRI Roadmap as a reference. They allow countries to set national priorities and to earmark funds for their development and participation in pan-European research infrastructure activities.

“The ESFRI roadmap is increasingly used by EU countries to give guidance to their national roadmaps. We hope that having the SKA featured in it as a landmark project will help attract further European participation in the project in the coming years.” added Dr. Simon Berry, Director of Policy Development at SKA Organisation.

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded.

Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.