Australia has started developing a massive network of antennas in the Outback to build the most powerful radio telescopes in the world.
After completion, the antennas in Australia and a network of dishes in South Africa will form the Square Kilometre Array _ a massive instrument to unfold mysteries about stars, galaxies, and extraterrestrial life.
The SKA Observatory’s Director-General Philip Diamond described the beginning of its construction as “momentous”.
The telescope “will be one of humanity’s biggest-ever scientific endeavours”, he said.
The current South African and Australian sections will have a joint information collecting area. Both the countries have huge tracts of land in far-flung areas with minimum radio disturbance. Such areas are considered ideal for telescopes.
They have dubbed the site “Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara”, or “sharing sky and stars”.
“We honour their readiness to share their skies and stars with us as we seek to find answers to some of the most fundamental science questions we face,” said Diamond.
The South African site will feature nearly 200 dishes in the remote Karoo region.
The project will evaluate “charting the birth and death of galaxies, looking for new gravitational waves and expanding the boundaries of the universe”, Sarah Pearce, director of the project said.
“To put the sensitivity of the SKA into perspective, the SKA could detect a mobile phone in the pocket of an astronaut on Mars, 225 million kilometres away,” an expert said.