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7 March 2024 Partner Release


One of Earth’s biggest science facilities, destined to provide an unparalleled view of the Universe, is today a step closer to reality.

The first of more than 130,000 two-metre-tall, Christmas tree-shaped antennas that will make up the SKA-Low radio telescope were installed today in WA’s Mid West, on Wajarri Country.

It is one of two telescopes, together with SKA-Mid in South Africa, being built by the global radio astronomy organisation the SKA Observatory (SKAO) as part of a world-wide effort to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe.

The SKA-Low telescope will enable scientists to explore the first billion years after the so-called dark ages of the Universe, when the first stars and galaxies formed.

SKAO Director-General Prof. Phillip Diamond, in Australia for the event, said laying the first antennas at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, was a significant day for one of humanity's biggest-ever scientific endeavours.

“Astronomers have been dreaming of this project for decades. To see the antennas that make up the SKA-Low telescope finally on the ground is a proud moment for us all,” Prof. Diamond said. 

“These telescopes are next-generation instruments, allowing us to test Einstein's theories and to observe space in more detail than ever before. With this telescope in Australia, we will watch the births and deaths of the first stars and galaxies, giving us invaluable clues about how the Universe evolved.”

Australia-based SKA-Low Telescope Director Dr Sarah Pearce said the unique and powerful SKA telescopes would help us to answer some of our most compelling scientific questions.

“The telescopes are like time machines, we’ll see things we’ve never been able to see in the history of humanity,” Dr Pearce said. 

“It may not look like other telescopes you’ve seen. But the SKA-Low telescope in Australia will be able to map the sky more than 100 times faster than other state-of-the-art telescopes, and will be so sensitive that it can detect the faintest radio signals that have travelled billions of light years across space.”

Globally, 16 countries – including Australia – are part of the SKAO’s effort to build the SKA telescopes. In Australia, the SKAO is collaborating with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, to build and operate the SKA-Low telescope.

This week marks the start of on-site work for new field technicians who will be tasked with the massive technical challenge of building more than 130,000 antennas across 74 km of the observatory site in the Murchison region. The group of 10 field technicians, seven of whom are from the Wajarri community, are the first employees hired in technical roles to build the antennas on site.

They were recruited to participate in a 12-month training program established by teams from the SKAO and CSIRO. The training program is intended to provide the skills field technicians need to build the SKA-Low telescope, as well as transferable skills that will improve their long-term job prospects. The SKAO and CSIRO teams worked closely with the Wajarri Yamaji People to encourage recruitment of Wajarri employees in these roles.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Doug Hilton said it was a milestone moment for an extraordinary science mega-project and CSIRO, as Australia’s national science agency, was honoured to be part of it.

“The SKA project truly evokes another scientific age of wonder, promising new discoveries that will challenge and enrich our understanding of the Universe itself.”

Dr Hilton said collaboration was at the heart of the SKA project, especially the partnership with the Wajarri Yamaji People, Traditional Owners and native title holders of the observatory site.

“Collaboration is what is bringing this project to life and that’s why it’s so exciting to welcome new team members in the joint SKAO-CSIRO traineeship program, including our new Wajarri team members.

“We’ve developed the traineeship program in partnership with the Wajarri community to benefit and learn from their incredible knowledge and wisdom and to grow employment opportunities on Country, reflecting our vision to create a better future for all Australians.”

Wajarri Yamaji Aboriginal Corporation CEO Jamie Strickland said the significant milestone in the SKA project was one that was celebrated by Wajarri Yamaji People.

“Through this important work, opportunities will continue to be created that allow our people to actively manage our heritage and culture and be active participants in the increased employment and economic development opportunities that will flow from the project,” he said.

“It also firmly places Wajarri Yamaji People on the world stage, and clearly shows how traditional knowledge and culture can help inform today’s technology and our understanding of our place in the Universe.

“We look forward to building on our strong partnerships with SKAO and CSIRO, and the Australian and Western Australian governments, particularly where this will benefit Wajarri Yamaji People for years to come”.

Prof. Diamond said he was thrilled to see the progress on the project, due to be completed by the end of the decade.

“In Australia, the Wajarri Yamaji People have been observing the skies and stars from this location for tens of thousands of years, so to now be sharing those same skies and stars with them is a pleasure and privilege,” he said.

The SKAO and CSIRO acknowledge the Wajarri Yamaji People as Traditional Owners and native title holders of Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site.

The observatory site has been established with the support of the Australian and Western Australian governments.

Multimedia assets:

Additional images and b-roll are available here.

This includes footage and photographs of construction activity at the site of the SKA-Low telescope, still artist impressions of the site, a site layout image, infographics and fact sheets. The media pack includes detail on how to credit photos and other assets.

Content from the event will be available at this link after 1300 AWST, 1600 AEDT. Please check back for updates.

About the SKAO

The SKAO is an intergovernmental organisation composed of Member States and partner organisations from five continents, headquartered in the UK. Its mission is to build and operate cutting-edge radio telescopes to transform our understanding of the Universe, and deliver benefits to society through global collaboration and innovation.

Its two telescopes, to be constructed in South Africa and Australia, will be the two most advanced radio telescopes on Earth. Together with other state-of-the-art research facilities, the SKAO’s telescopes will explore the unknown frontiers of science and deepen our understanding of key processes, including the formation and evolution of galaxies, fundamental physics in extreme environments and the origins of life.

Through the development of innovative technologies and its contribution to addressing societal challenges, the SKAO will play its part to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and deliver significant benefits across its membership and beyond. The SKAO recognises and acknowledges the Indigenous peoples and cultures that have traditionally lived on the lands on which the SKAO facilities are located.


Australian Government and the SKA project

The Australian SKA office, based in the Australian Department of Industry, Science and Resources, coordinates the Australian Government’s national and international involvement in the SKA project. The Office works with communities through the Australian SKA Coordination Committee, the Science Advisory Committee, the Australasian SKA Industry Cluster, Supplying the SKA project, the SKA Fellowships Programme and the Shared Sky exhibition.

WA Government and the SKA project
The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation coordinates the Western Australian Government’s involvement in the SKA project, along with aiming to maximise benefits to Western Australia. The Western Australian Science and Innovation Framework specifically outlines supporting WA’s involvement in the SKA.


Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, brings over 70 years’ experience in radio astronomy and research facility leadership to the SKA project. The SKA-Low telescope will be located on Wajarri Country at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

As well as acting as operations partner to the SKAO in Australia, CSIRO is working with industry and tertiary partners on multiple aspects of SKA-Low construction. CSIRO construction work includes managing the infrastructure construction process, designing software and computing for the powerful supercomputers behind the telescope, and managing the assembly integration and verification process that brings together all the individual telescope pieces and ensures they work correctly together as one instrument.


The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) was founded in 2009 to support Australia’s bid to host the world’s largest radio telescopes, the SKA, representing one of the largest scientific endeavours in history.

Constituting a joint venture between Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, and proudly supported by the Government of Western Australia, ICRAR has grown into an internationally renowned, multi-disciplinary research centre for science, engineering, and data intensive astronomy, and is one of the top 5 astronomy centres in the world.

Our Community Outreach team visits dozens of communities and schools across Western Australia each year, delivering targeted programs to students in astronomy and related fields, designed to inspire the next generation to consider science as a career pathway.

Meanwhile, our Translation and Impact team works closely with industry, government, and communities to share our wealth of expertise and to help business grow.

ICRAR will continue to work on the SKA into the future, having secured key contracts to support the ongoing success of this international mega project.


The Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre is a world-class high-performance computing facility accelerating scientific discoveries for Australia's researchers. Named for Australian scientist Joseph Pawsey, known as one of the pioneers of Australian radio astronomy, the Centre is home to Australia’s greenest and most powerful Tier 1 research supercomputer facility, Setonix.

An unincorporated joint venture of CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia, the Pawsey Centre supports science of national and international importance, such as the SKA project, including via its precursor telescopes, ASKAP and the Murchison Widefield Array.

Pawsey is supported by the Australian Government, the Western Australia Government, and its partners.


The Australian SKA Regional Centre (AusSRC) is part of the international network of SKA Regional Centres that will support the global flow of data and post-processing needed for the SKA telescopes. Researchers around the world will need to readily access and analyse vast amounts of data coming from the SKA telescopes. SKA Regional Centres like the AusSRC will make this possible by creating new frameworks, tools, and methodologies to produce scientific results from these large data sets.

The AusSRC currently supports Australian SKA precursor projects that utilise the ASKAP and MWA telescopes. The AusSRC is a collaboration between CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency, Curtin University, the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre, and The University of Western Australia.


Members of the SKA-Low team build a prototype SKA-Low antenna. Credit: SKAO ©  SKAO
Prototype SKA-Low antennas. Credit: SKAO ©  SKAO

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