Square Kilometer Array Samantha Simonetti

Construction and Operation

  • Yet to be completed, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) will be the largest radio telescope ever constructed, with a total collecting area well over one square kilometer
  • The site of the telescope is the middle of the Western Australian Desert and a remote location in South Africa, where equipment is currently located
  • The start of construction is scheduled for 2018
  • The design phase had a cost of about 150 million euros, and the total cost for the first phase of the telescope is about 650 million euros (full cost is yet to be determined), with much of the funding coming from host countries
  • The office for the SKA Organization is responsible for coordinating the global activities of the SKA project
  • Official Webpage: https://www.skatelescope.org/
  • Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/SKA_telescope
Potential array stations for the SKA in Australia and the site of the SKA in South Africa
The three SKA receptor types (left), the proposed layout for the SKA, which resembles multiple spiral arm configurations (top right), and an artist's impression of antennas in Australia (bottom right)
South Africa and Australia, the host countries

Physical Characteristics

  • The telescope will use thousands of high frequency dishes, as well as low frequency and mid-frequency aperture array telescopes
  • The telescopes will be arranged in multiple spiral arm configurations which will be connected to a central core ― the physical distance between each dish is precisely measured for proper data collection
  • There will be several thousand 15 meter wide dishes which are fully steerable, which will be made from carbon fiber deposites
  • Aperture arrays will also be constructed ― they provide a large field of view and are capable at viewing more than one part of the sky at once
An artist's impression of what the aperture arrays and dishes will look like once construsted

Optical Characteristics

  • The SKA is a radio telescope, meaning it will observe objects in the radio spectrum
  • The SKA will observe at a frequency range from 50 MHz to 20 GHz, which corresponds to wavelengths of 4 m to 3 cm
Radio waves are found towards the end of the spectrum, with the largest wavelength and smallest frequency

Research and Purpose

  • One of the main goals of the SKA is too research the expansion/acceleration of the universe and why this acceleration is taking place
  • The SKA will revolutionize the study of how galaxies form and transform their gas into stars by the detection of hydrogen gas
  • The SKA will be one of the world’s largest and most sensitive interferometers, spanning thousands of kilometers
  • The SKA will study cosmic magnetism
  • The SKA will use interferometry (this will be the largest telescope to do so) in order to maximize its resolution
Basic information on how interferometry works

MeerKAT Precursor

  • The South African MeerKAT radio telescope is a precursor to the SKA
Image of MeerKAT
The ALMA radio telescope array in Chile captured this shot of the Antennae Galaxies (75 million light years from Earth). This is an example of a photo from a radio telescope.

Works Cited


  • https://www.skatelescope.org/radio-astronomy/
  • http://theconversation.com/australias-bid-for-the-square-kilometre-array-an-insiders-perspective-4891
  • http://www.nature.com/news/astronomy-in-south-africa-the-long-shot-1.9633
  • http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/news/2010/skaposts/
  • http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Astronomy/ASKAP-and-the-Square-Kilometre-Array/SKA
  • https://www.skatelescope.org/location/
  • http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/02/14/3430265.htm
  • https://5ocietyx.wordpress.com/category/earth/australia/western-australia/
  • http://www.hutui6.com/space-wallpapers.html
  • https://sites.google.com/site/chempendix/em-spectrum
  • http://www.space.com/13146-alma-radio-telescope-1st-image-released.html


  • https://www.skatelescope.org/
  • http://www.ska.ac.za/gallery/meerkat/

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