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Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO)

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • India has approved joining the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) project with a financial commitment of Rs 1,250 crore.

More about the news

  • SKAO is an intergovernmental organization with participation from ten countries: Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK.
  • The headquarters of SKAO is located in the United Kingdom.
  • SKAO’s primary goal is to build and operate cutting-edge radio telescopes to transform the understanding of the Universe.
  • The observatory aims to explore the formation and evolution of galaxies, delve into fundamental physics in extreme environments, and investigate the origins of life.
  • The observatory consists of two telescopes situated at radio-quiet sites in South Africa and Australia.
  • Associated facilities are established to support the operations of these telescopes.

India’s Contribution

  • India actively contributes to SKAO through the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), which is based in Pune.
  • India has been involved in the development of SKA since the 1990s, showcasing a sustained commitment to radio astronomy advancements.
  • India’s primary contribution lies in the development and operation of the Telescope Manager element.
  • Specifically involved in creating the “neural network” or the essential software that facilitates the functioning of the telescope.


Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT)

  • GMRT is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), which is part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
  • Recognized as the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, operating within the frequency range of 110-1,460 MegaHertz.
  • GMRT played a pivotal role in scientific breakthroughs, contributing to the detection of nano-hertz gravitational waves for the first time.
  • Specifically, GMRT’s involvement enabled the identification of gravitational waves originating from massive black hole pairs, each several million times more massive than the Sun.

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