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EU funds boost progress on world's largest radio telescope

Brussels, 22 February 2016

The world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, is one step closer to reality thanks to European Union co-funding announced today.

The international SKA project is one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, bringing together astronomers and engineers with industry and governments around the world, to design a mega-science facility that will transform our understanding of the Universe and drive technological and industrial development worldwide.

The EU funding of €4.95 million will support the detailed design of the infrastructure required at the two SKA co-host sites – the Murchison region of Western Australia and the Karoo region of South Africa. The SKA Headquarters are in Manchester, UK.

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: "Ambitious projects like these capture the human imagination and can lead to life-changing discoveries and innovations as well as new knowledge for the whole world. The EU is making an important contribution through Horizon 2020, supporting a unique scientific instrument that is open to the world."

The funding will be shared between the international SKA Organisation, located at Jodrell Bank in the UK, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO, and the SKA South Africa business unit of the country's National Research Foundation NRF.

The SKA is currently in pre-construction phase, with construction set to begin in 2018, and early science in 2020.

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The Square Kilometre Array is a global project involving institutions from over 20 countries. It has been identified by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures as one of 12 initiatives that could benefit from specific EU funding.

The current design phase of the telescope amounts to about €150 million.

The SKA will be the most capable radio telescope ever constructed, requiring the development of the world's fastest supercomputers to process data at rates far greater than the current global internet traffic. During its 50+ year lifetime, the SKA will enable astronomers to probe the Universe in unprecedented detail and it will help driving cutting-edge advances in data processing techniques and the use of sustainable energy sources in the EU and globally.

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