SWITZERLAND has become the eighth country to join the intergovernmental founding nations that will collaborate on the construction of the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO), to be built in Australia and South Africa.
Led by the UK, Australia and South Africa, SKAO is the largest proposed radio telescope expected to be operational for observations by the early 2030s.
Once operational by 2029, the SKAO will generate astronomical data measuring 700 petabytes per year. Based in the UK, the SKAO will be an array of 197 satellite dishes located in South Africa and 1,31,072 dishes in Western Australia and will operate in the 50 MegaHertz – 15.3 GigaHertz frequency range.
The estimated cost of building the SKAO, from 2021 to 2029, is around 2 billion euros.
India, at present, is a Participating Member but is waiting to officially become a Full Member and the proposal to do so is pending with the Union Government. Becoming a full member will mean the disclosure of funds to contribute to the mega science project.
Alongside the three host countries, Switzerland joins the founding member nations of Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, France and China.
In December last year, the Federal Council approved Switzerland’s membership of SKAO and the country’s parliament agreed to fund the project.
“Swiss institutions have made valuable contributions throughout the design and pre-construction phases of the SKA, and Swiss expertise in research and development in science and astronomy is world-renowned,” said Dr Catherine Cesarsky. , president of the SKAO board, in an official SKAO press release published on Wednesday.