What is the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project

News Excerpt: 

Recently, India has officially become a part of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project. 

SKA project

  • The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square meters) of collecting area.
  • The scale of the SKA represents a huge leap forward in both engineering and research & development towards building and delivering a unique instrument, with the detailed design and preparation now well under way.
  • As one of the largest scientific endeavors in history, the SKA will bring together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to fruition.

Significance of INDIA joining the SKA project: 

  • This collaborative international effort aims to construct the largest radio telescope in the world.
  • Joining the SKA project brings significant science and tech benefits for India, similar to the successes of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) and ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor)
  • As a full member, India gets preferential access to SKA facilities that involve advanced technologies in electronics, software, materials science, and computing.
  • While SKA owns the intellectual properties, all member countries, including India, can access and learn from them.
  • This participation is expected to expand India's science and tech capabilities, offering opportunities for training and capacity building.

India’s involvement in SKA project:

  • India has been actively engaged in the SKA project since its inception in the 1990s, playing a key role in both the design and development of the telescope. 
  • Additionally, India played a crucial part in negotiating the SKA Observatory Convention, the international treaty establishing the facility as an intergovernmental organization.
  • The primary contribution from India involves the development and operation of the Telescope Manager, essentially the 'neural network' or software responsible for running the entire facility. 

Future Scope of the Project: 

  • Looking ahead, there are plans to establish an SKA regional center in the country, forming part of the global network responsible for processing, storing, and providing access to data for the scientific community.
  • Indian scientists have identified several areas of research for which they want to use the SKA telescopes. These include studies relating to the evolution of the early universe, the formation and evolution of galaxies, neutron star physics, and solar sciences.

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