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Italy ratifies SKA Observatory Convention

The SKA Observatory Convention was signed on 12 March 2019 in Rome, and Italy has now become the second country to ratify the text.

Rome, Italy, 5 February 2020 – Italy has become the second country to ratify the SKA Observatory Convention, the treaty which establishes the intergovernmental organisation that will build and operate the SKA telescopes.

On Thursday 30th January, the Italian Senate passed the law that authorises the President to ratify the Convention. In the text, Italy announced a financial commitment of 120 million euros over 10 years for the project.

Italy led the multilateral negotiations on the text of the Convention, which was signed in Rome last year by seven countries: Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The Convention will enter into force once five signatories, including the three hosts Australia, South Africa and the UK, have ratified the text. Italy becomes the second country to do so after The Netherlands last August.

Italy’s National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) has been coordinating Italian participation in the SKA.

 “INAF has been part of the project from its foundation with an indisputable contribution in terms of science, technological development and industrial participation,” says INAF President Nichi D’Amico. “Now the internal R&D activities within INAF are of fundamental importance, necessary to capitalise the return for the country of the government’s contribution to the Organisation in terms of science, industry and development of innovative technologies.” 

Italian institutions and industry have been instrumental in the design phase of the SKA, particularly in prototyping work for the SKA’s low-frequency antennas. INAF is involved in a number of world-class radio astronomy facilities, including operating the 64m Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) and hosting one of the international LOFAR telescope stations. Italian researchers are involved in all 13 of the SKA’s Science Working Groups.

“We’re seeing great momentum towards construction with the recent completion of our system engineering review and now the Italian ratification. It’s a great step towards establishing the SKA Observatory in the coming months” said SKA Director-General Prof. Philip Diamond.

Learn more about the transition to the SKA Observatory here.