The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.
The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded. Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope.
Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020. Standing at a little over 8.5 metres tall, the SKA Inflatable dish is a 2:1 scale model of what a real Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Dish will look like. The Dish element of the SKA is probably what most people think of as a radio telescope, and this fun (and bouncy!) inflatable shows how impressive the SKA will be once built, when thousands of these telescopes, double the size, will be built out in the remote areas of the Karoo desert in South Africa.