Capitol Momentum - Jan 2023

CSIRO and SKAO Launch SKA-Low Construction in Western Australia

An artist’s impression of the future SKA-Low telescope site, showing the field stations to be constructed (on the right) together with the existing ASKAP dishes. Credit: SKAO

Ibadan, 5 December 2022. – Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has helped launch the construction of the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) ‘s SKA-Low telescope at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory on Wajarri Country in Mid West Western Australia.

The global SKA Observatory (SKAO) announced the start of on-site construction activity for both their telescopes today, SKA-Low in Australia and SKA-Mid in South Africa. As a result, the SKA-Low telescope will be the first mega-science project that Australia co-hosts. Furthermore, it will explore the Universe in more detail than ever, transforming our understanding of the cosmos and benefitting society through global collaboration and innovation.

“The SKA project is keeping Australian expertise at the cutting edge of discovery, a shining example of the power of collaboration to drive innovation, especially the generous collaboration of the Wajarri Yamaji, Traditional Owners and native title holders of the telescope site, who allow us to leave our footprints side by side with theirs,” said Dr. Marshall, CSIRO CEO.

CSIRO is the SKAO’s operations partner for the SKA-Low telescope in Australia and holds multiple contracts for SKA-Low construction activities. Furthermore, the SKA-Low telescope will spread across 74km end-to-end at the WA observatory site alongside existing instruments, including CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope.

SKA-Low Telescope Director Dr. Sarah Pearce said the SKAO was glad to have established operations and engineering centers in Australia, where SKAO works closely with CSIRO as an operations partner.

The commencement of construction today follows the finalization of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the Wajarri Yamaji in early November. Through its management of the ILUA, CSIRO is partnering with the Wajarri Yamaji community to ensure cultural heritage is safe during construction activities on-site and over the SKA-Low telescope’s 50-year working life.

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