Canada Becomes The 10th Member Of SKA Observatory (SKAO) Located In The UK

7th Jun 2024
Canada Becomes The 10th Member Of SKA Observatory (SKAO) Located In The UK

Canada has officially joined the SKA Observatory, changing its status from Council Observer to a Member State. 

On 3rd June, François-Phillipe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced a $269 million (€182 million) investment over eight years. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) will represent Canada in the SKAO Council.

The SKAO Overview

The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) is an intergovernmental organization that builds and operates extremely powerful radio telescopes. Its primary goal is to deepen our understanding of the Universe and promote global collaboration in the space field.

The headquarters of the SKAO are located at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, UK. The SKAO is building two telescopes in South Africa and Australia, intending to finish the construction by 2030.

Canada: From Council Observer To A Member State

The Canadian flag flying at SKAO Global Headquarters
The Canadian flag flying at SKAO Global Headquarters. Credit: SKAO

Canadian astronomers and engineers have been involved in SKAO activities for more than two decades dating back to its establishment. Scientists at Canadian institutions are involved in 12 of the 14 SKAO Science Working Groups, including the Magnetism group. Canada also hosts the innovative SKA pathfinder telescope CHIME. 

“Canada has been a valued partner within the SKA project for over 20 years. I am delighted to welcome them as our newest Member, extending the Observatory’s membership into North America,” said SKAO Director-General Professor Phil Diamond.

Canada’s membership in the Square Kilometre Array Observatory will boost the Canadian space sector. Also, it will give researchers access to the world’s most powerful radio telescope. 

The Role Of The UK In SKAO

The UK’s contribution to this institution cannot be exaggerated. For instance, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investigating the possibility of establishing superpowerful computers and software to handle data from the SKA radio telescope. The UK is teaming up with India on this project to ensure that science capabilities are provided to the international astronomical community.

Once the construction is fully finished, the SKAO will be the powerful global observatory operating two telescopes across three continents on behalf of its Members and partners.

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