Dwingeloo, 2 July 2014
A consortium consisting of ASTRON and the Universities of Amsterdam, Groningen, Leiden and Nijmegen has been awarded 12M€ for their participation in the design of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA will be the world’s largest and most powerful radio telescope. Construction will start in 2018 in Australia and South Africa and the first results are expected in 2020. The announcement of funding from the second call of the Netherlands Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities was made by Sander Dekker, the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, and Jos Engelen, chair of the Governing Board of Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) at an event in Leiden.
The SKA Project is an international effort to design and build a telescope composed of hundreds of dishes and hundreds of thousands of antennas connected by optical fibre to massive data processing facilities. It will address questions that only observations of the Universe at radio wavelengths can answer. The SKA will produce the first images from a time when the first stars and galaxies were forming. It will also use pulsars to detect gravitational radiation and test Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. The extreme flexibility of the SKA will also allow it to detect and identify new transient phenomena, thereby opening a new window on the variable Universe. Participation in the Square Kilometre Array is one of the top priorities of Dutch astronomy for this decade.