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Malta joins the ranks of SKA observer countries

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Exciting news coming from the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) as Malta joins the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project as an observer on the SKA Board. This status will allow Malta to learn more about the SKA project, strengthen and their participation in SKA design and activities.

The SKA is a global collaboration to build the largest and most sensitive radio telescope on Earth. SKA will consist of two instruments located in Australia and South Africa, which are due to come online in 2020. The SKA will enable astronomers to glimpse the formation and evolution of the very first stars and galaxies after the Big Bang, investigate the nature of gravity, and possibly even discover life beyond Earth.

Dr Kristian Zarb Adami, from the University of Malta and the University of Oxford, has been appointed to represent Malta on the SKA Board of Directors.

Malta is delighted that the SKA board have accepted its request to act as an observer”, said Dr Zarb Adami. “The University of Malta already contributes to three of the main elements in the SKA, in particular the Low-Frequency Aperture Array element. Maltese companies have already benefited from industrial-academic collaborations in the software development for the demonstrator to be placed in the Australian desert later this year.”

It is great to see countries like Malta, which are not the traditional radio astronomy countries, develop skills and capability in astronomy instrumentation,” said Prof. Philip Diamond, Director-General of the SKA Organisation. “Malta through the Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA) has been involved in key elements of the design of the SKA telescope over the last few years. Just like several other countries, they clearly see the likely return on investment of being part of the SKA and now want to take a step further in their engagement.”

The Institute for Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA) at the University of Malta was recently set up with members from the Faculties of Science, Engineering and ICT. ISSA explores and develops observational and theoretical facets of new physics. They are involved in a wide range of research activities, such as aperture array antenna design and high performance software development, all of which would benefit in the construction of the SKA.

More than 100 companies and institutions in 20 countries are involved in the research and development and design activities of what is considered one of the most fascinating science adventures of the early 21st century.

Malta joins existing observer members of the SKA Organisation including France, Japan, Portugal, Spain and the USA. Full members of the SKA Organisation are: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.