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Sweden joins the SKA Organisation

Further international support for the world’s largest radio telescope

28th June 2012, Manchester, UK – The Board of Directors of the Square Kilometre Array Organisation has formally welcomed Sweden, represented by Onsala Space Observatory, as the ninth member of the organisation.

Sweden is welcomed as the newest member of the SKA Organisation. Patricia Vogel, vice-chair of the board of directors of the SKA Organisation, shakes hands with John Conway, vice director of Onsala Space Observatory. Photo: Onsala Space Observatory/Michiel van Haarlem

The SKA will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever built. It 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.

Professor Hans Olofsson, director of Onsala Space Observatory, and Professor John Conway, deputy director of Onsala Space Observatory were appointed to represent Sweden on the SKA Board of Directors at the board meeting at Schiphol, in the Netherlands, on 27 June 2012.

“The SKA will be one of the 21st century’s most important pieces of scientific equipment. For astronomers it is a long-awaited step into the future and an immensely exciting challenge. It will give us new insight into the nature of our astonishing universe and how it has become a place where life could arise”, says Hans Olofsson, director of Onsala Space Observatory.

Professor John Womersley, chair of the board of the SKA Organisation, welcomed Sweden’s membership. “It’s great to have Sweden and Onsala Space Observatory in the SKA. Onsala Space Observatory has a long history of expertise in radio astronomy which will be a huge asset as we make the technology and engineering choices which will define how the SKA will work and what it will be able to do to transform our understanding of the universe”, he said.

As a full member of the SKA Organisation, Sweden has voting rights and is eligible to appoint two representatives to the Board of Directors. The SKA Board of Directors has the authority to appoint senior staff, decide budgets, admit new project partners to the organisation and direct the work of the global work package consortia.

Sweden joins the existing full members Australia, Canada, China, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. India is an associate member.

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia – New Zealand. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. The target construction cost is €1,500 million and construction of phase 1 of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters in Manchester UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

Members of the SKA Organisation:

  • Australia: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
  • Canada: National Research Council
  • China: National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Italy: National Institute for Astrophysics
  • New Zealand: Ministry of Economic Development
  • Republic of South Africa: National Research Foundation
  • Sweden: Onsala Space Observatory
  • The Netherlands: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
  • United Kingdom: Science and Technology Facilities Council

Associate member:

  • India: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics


For more information and images contact:

SKA Organisation

Jo Bowler, Interim Outreach Officer,

Office of the SKA Organisation, UK

Office: +44 (0)161 275 4239

Mobile: +44(0)759 307 7153