Monday 22 February 2015, SKA Global Headquarters, UK – The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project has been awarded €5M from the European Union’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 to further advance some of its activities.
The EU-allocated funding will help support the detailed design of the infrastructure required at the two SKA telescope co-host sites – the Murchison region of Western Australia and the Karoo region of South Africa – and adds to the €150M currently being invested globally in the project’s pre-construction phase.
Simon Berry, Director of Policy Development at the SKA Global Headquarters who led the development of the successful bid, noted: “It’s excellent news. The SKA continues to be seen as an important global project by the European Union, and this funding will allow us to complete critical design activities. Once these activities are complete, companies and communities in Europe and around the world within our member countries will be poised to benefit from it.”
Beyond its fundamental contributions to astronomy and physics for the international scientific community, the SKA is widely considered as a human capital development instrument and an innovation driver in many areas of interest to industry and society as a whole. These areas of interest include electronic and mechanical engineering, computing and software design and remote efficient power infrastructure.
EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: “Ambitious projects like these capture the human imagination and can lead to life-changing discoveries and innovations as well as new knowledge for the whole world. The EU is making an important contribution through Horizon 2020, supporting a unique scientific instrument that is open to the world.”
SKA Organisation – which oversees the design, construction and operation of the SKA – was invited to apply for the European funding and will be responsible for administrating the grant’s activities.
The funding will enable activity across the INfrastructure SKA (IN-SKA) programme, including work at the SKA Global Headquarters in the UK and also within the two teams responsible for delivering the SKA’s infrastructure design: Infrastructure Australia, led by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in partnership with Aurecon Australasia, and Infrastructure South Africa, led by SKA South Africa.
Martin Austin, Engineering Project Manager for Site & Infrastructure at the SKA Global Headquarters and who oversees the delivery of the infrastructure design for both sites, added: “Infrastructure is the supporting backbone of the project. Without it, it would be impossible to deliver the telescope and the end product science for the broader community. This welcome funding takes us to the next step: detailed design, the last step on paper before procurement and construction work starts.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
About the SKA
The 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.
About Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.
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Simon Berry, SKA Organisation Director of Policy Development
tel: +44 161 306 9676
William Garnier, SKA Organisation Director of Communications, Outreach and Education
tel: +44 161 306 9613
Lucia Caudet, EU spokesperson on Research, Science and Innovation,
tel: +32 (0)460 756 182
Flornes Yuen, SKA Information Officer, Astronomy and Space Science
tel: +61 2 9372 4339
Lorenzo Raynard, SKA South Africa Communications Manager
tel: +27 21 506 7319