Square Kilometre Array

We have led New Zealand’s involvement with the international effort to design the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.

New Zealand’s involvement

New Zealand is a founding member of the SKA Organisation – a not-for-profit company established to manage the first phase of the project. The first phase is likely to conclude in 2020, at which point the ‘organisation’ will be replaced by the ‘SKA Observatory’, a new international organisation set up to construct and operate the telescope.

New Zealand originally joined this phase to support and develop our software industry through engaging with one the world’s largest science projects. The first ‘design’ phase of the project involved the development of new software technologies to manage the substantial data processing requirements of the completed telescope.

As a result of our participation, several of New Zealand’s universities and ICT companies have significantly developed their capability in dealing with ‘big data’, and these advances are already being applied to pursuing other commercial opportunities.

The New Zealand Government has decided not to pursue associate membership in the SKA Observatory at the conclusion of the first ‘design’ phase of the SKA radio telescope project.

What is the Square Kilometre Array?

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is a global science and engineering project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. The radio telescope will be the largest scientific instrument on Earth, both in terms of physical scale and in terms of the volume of data it will generate.

The SKA will consist of thousands of dishes and aperture array telescopes, which will be co-sited in the deserts of Australia and South Africa. Combining radio signals from the different sources will enable the SKA to emulate a much larger telescope. The resulting radio telescope will be 50 times more sensitive than any existing instrument and will allow us to look ten times deeper into space.

three radio telescopes

CSIRO's ASKAP antennas stand against the starry sky at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia


Last updated: 08 July 2019