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SKA Observatory Convention ratified by the Netherlands

The SKA Observatory Convention was signed on 12 March 2019 by government representatives from (L-R in the picture) United Kingdom, China, Portugal, Italy, South Africa, the Netherlands and Australia.

The Hague, the Netherlands, 19 August 2019 – The Netherlands has become the first country to ratify the SKA Observatory Convention, which establishes the SKA as an intergovernmental organisation tasked with building and operating the world’s largest radio telescope.

The Convention was ratified by the Dutch parliament prior to the summer break, and today came confirmation that the acts of ratification have been accepted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the depository of the Convention.

Similar ratification processes are currently under way in the other six countries that signed the Convention in Rome on 12 March: Australia, China, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The Convention will enter into force when five signatories, including the three hosts (Australia, South Africa and the UK), have ratified the text and submitted their instruments of ratification to the depository.

In the Netherlands, scientific and technical preparation for the SKA has been coordinated by ASTRON, an institute of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will represent the Netherlands in the new SKA Observatory.

Describing the SKA as a “ground-breaking” project, Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid Van Engelshoven said: “We are investing 30 million Euros in the project, and that investment will generate employment, activity for industry and knowledge for our society, for example in the fields of IT and sustainable energy. The Netherlands will also strengthen its leading position in science worldwide.”

ASTRON operates several SKA pathfinders, most notably LOFAR, the Low Frequency Array, which are contributing to the design and development of the SKA. Dutch institutions have also been involved in eight of the of the SKA’s 12 international engineering design consortia.

“I am very pleased that the Netherlands is the first of our partner countries to have ratified the SKA Observatory Convention,” added SKA Director-General Prof. Philip Diamond. “This reinforces the momentum that now exists within the SKA. We expect full ratification of the Convention next year, and the start of construction in approximately 18 months.”

Read more on the ASTRON website.

Learn more about the transition to the SKA Observatory here.