International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Square Kilometre Array Observatory


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Square Kilometre Array Observatory, Radio Telescopes

Mains level : Not Much

The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council held its maiden meeting and approved the establishment of the world’s largest radio telescope.

Note all important telescopes in news and their features. Some of them are – Thirty Meter Telescope, Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, Spitzer, Chandra etc.


  • It is a new intergovernmental organisation dedicated to radio astronomy and is headquartered in the UK.
  • At the moment, organisations from ten countries are a part of the SKAO.
  • These include Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK.

What are radio telescopes?

  • Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can detect invisible gas and, therefore, they can reveal areas of space that may be obscured by cosmic dust.
  • Significantly, since the first radio signals were detected by physicist Karl Jansky in the 1930s, astronomers have used radio telescopes to detect radio waves emitted by different objects in the universe and explore it.
  • According to NASA, the field of radio astronomy evolved after World War II and became one of the most important tools for making astronomical observations since.

The Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, which was the second-largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, collapsed in December 2020.

Significance of SKA telescope

  • The telescope, proposed to be the largest radio telescope in the world, will be located in Africa and Australia whose operation, maintenance and construction will be overseen by SKAO.
  • Some of the questions that scientists hope to address using this telescope include the beginning of the universe, how and when the first stars were born and the life-cycle of a galaxy.
  • It would explore the possibility of detecting technologically-active civilizations elsewhere in our galaxy and understanding where gravitational waves come from.
  • As per NASA, the telescope will accomplish its scientific goals by measuring neutral hydrogen over cosmic time, accurately timing the signals from pulsars in the Milky Way.

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