France has officially joined the international consortium that will build the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), proposed to be the world’s largest radio telescope. The announcement was made by French President Emmanuel Macron. With this, France has become the first non-founding country to join the SKA consortium. The founding member-nations are Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and China.

What

  1. India, through the Department of Atomic Energy, is also one of the participating members of SKA, but is yet to become a SKAO member.
  2. The proposal in this regard is presently under review, after which India will announce its share of funding grant for SKA and officially join the consortium. A decision is expected by the end of 2021.
  3. Some of the other participating countries are Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
  4. For the project, there will be 197 dishes, each measuring 15 metres in diameter, placed in South Africa’s Karoo region.
  5. The telescope in Australia will have 1, 31,072 antennas and will be installed on the campus of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.