The Square Kilometre Array is a global science and engineering project to build the world's largest radio telescope, and we're helping to design it.

We've been involved in the Square Kilometre Array since its inception. Now, we're working in partnership with industry, science organisations and governments both locally and internationally to design it.

An artist's impression of the Square Kilometre Array's antennas in Australia.  ©SKA Organisation

What is the Square Kilometre Array?

The Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, is a next-generation radio telescope that will be vastly more sensitive than the best present-day instruments. It will give astronomers remarkable insights into the formation of the early Universe, including the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.

Consisting of thousands of antennas linked together by high bandwidth optical fibre, the SKA will require new technologies and progress in fundamental engineering. The telescope's design and development is being led by the international SKA Organisation, a not-for-profit company that has its headquarters in Manchester, UK.

In May 2012, the SKA Organisation announced that the SKA will be located across two main sites: the CSIRO-run Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory and surrounding Australian Radio-Quiet Zone (WA), and southern Africa.

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[Image shows a starry sky with a spinning earth globe, which zooms in on Western Australia. Concentric blue lines move around a point, and text appears: Murchison Radio Astronomy Observatory]

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[Image changes to show a series of telescopes and the text appears: CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope, Surveying the structure and evolution of the universe]

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[Image changes to show a closer image of the telescope, and the text appears: Equipped with wide-field phased array receivers, CSIRO technology surveying the sky faster than ever before]

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[Image changes to show a closer view of the small telescopes and the text appears: Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) 4096-dipole antenna low-frequency telescope]

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[Image changes to show a signpost and text appears: MWSA has helped map more than 300,000 galaxies]

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[Image changes to show a complex of buildings and text appears: MRO Control Building, High tech custom supercomputing facility]

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[Image changes to show a vehicle driving towards a large solar array power station, and text appears: MRO Solar Hybrid Power Station, Astronomy’s first major hybrid energy system]

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[Image changes to show a shipping container, and text appears: One of Australia’s largest lithium-ion batteries (2.5MWh) Renewable energy storage – maximising the use of renewable power]

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[Image changes to show an aerial view of the battery site, then change to show a vehicle moving towards a circular pattern of antennae. Text appears: ‘AAVS’ Antenna Test Platform, Testing the next generation of telescope technology]

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[Image changes to show an array of triangular antennae, and text appears: New antenna and software technology will pave the way for the Square Kilometre Array telescope]

[Images pan through of two men working on the antennae, an aerial view of the site, and a series of completed antennae. Text appears: Square Kilometre Array, 131,000 antennas build in Australia from 2020 along with hundreds of dish antennas in South Africa]

[Image changes to pan across a series of square kilometre array antennas dotting the landscape around a telescope]

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[Image changes to show the Square Kilometre Array logo, the CSIRO logo, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Logo, the Australian Government logo and the Western Australian logo]

[Text appears: We acknowledge the Wajarrai Yamaji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) site. The MRO and the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope are managed and operated by CSIRO – www.csiro.au. The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope is an international collaboration led and operated by Curtin University – mwatelescope.org. The ‘AAVS’ test platform is an initiative of the Aperture Array Design and Construct (AADC) SKA consortium hosted by the MWA – skatelescope.org/lfaa. The international Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is a joint venture between Curtin University and the University of Western Australia]

World-leading radio astronomy in the Aussie Outback

Developing new technologies for ASKAP

We're developing the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP, radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. As well as carrying out cutting-edge science in its own right, ASKAP is allowing us to test new technologies for the SKA.

Designing the future of radio astronomy

We're playing a key role in designing the SKA through several research and development consortia:

  • We lead the Infrastructure Australia Consortium, which is in charge of designing and costing SKA infrastructure at the Australian SKA site.
  • We are a key partner in the Assembly, Integration and Verification Consortium which plays a critical role during the construction phase of the telescope.
  • We are collaborating in the design of the central signal processor, which combines the raw data from the antennas and sends it via fibre optic cable to the super computer.
  • We also contribute to several other SKA consortia and play a leading role in the development of innovative receivers called phased array feeds which are under consideration for the SKA.

Collaborating for the SKA

Australia is one of 12 SKA Organisation member countries. Along with the Australian, New Zealand, and Western Australian Governments, CSIRO is a principal partner in Australia's involvement in the SKA. We're also working closely with industry to provide innovative, cost-effective solutions for both ASKAP and the SKA.

We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site.

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