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EU awards €5m towards design of giant radio telescope


Radio telescope
Radio telescope

Funding will help support the detailed design of the infrastructure required at the two SKA telescope co-host sites

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, an international effort to build the world›s largest radio telescope, has been awarded €5 million in funding from the European Union’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 to further advance critical

design activities.

The EU-allocated funding will help support the detailed design of the infrastructure required at the two SKA telescope co-host sites – the Murchison region of Western Australia and the Karoo region of South Africa – and adds to the €150 million being invested globally in the project’s pre-construction phase.

Simon Berry, director of policy development at the SKA global headquarters, which is based at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, led the development of the successful bid. He said: “It’s excellent news. The SKA continues to be seen as an important global project by the EU, and this funding will allow us to complete critical design activities. Once these activities are complete, companies and communities in Europe and around the world within our member countries will be poised to benefit from it.”

The funding will allow the project to reach a critical stage of construction in 2018, helping to install basics such as water provision to the telescope sites. It will also help in the design of vital buildings to house the computing and data processing facilities. Berry said: “Even designing the foundations of the many hundreds of antennae in both locations to cope with the demanding remote environments will be difficult; the funding will help us with all these tasks.”

The funding will be split fairly equally between supporting the two design project leaders and their existing teams of engineers. In both cases, there will be a substantial spend with industry, in Africa through tendering processes to be worked through in the coming months, and in Australia, with long-term engineering partners Aurecon and Rider Levett Bucknall. Berry said: “Their engineering expertise and industrial know-how will be critical to us.”

Carlos Moedas, the EU commissioner for research, science and innovation, said: “Ambitious projects such as these capture the human imagination and can lead to life-changing discoveries and innovations, as well as new knowledge for the whole world. The EU is making an important contribution through Horizon 2020, supporting a unique scientific instrument that is open to the world.”


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