20 Oct 2023



The SKAO (Square Kilometre Array Observatory) will be the world’s largest radio observatory.




Artist's impression of the low-frequency antennas in the desert in Western Australia, they look a bit like wire Christmas trees.From its headquarters in the UK, SKAO will operate two cutting-edge, complementary arrays with 197 radio telescope dishes located in Southern Africa and more than 130,000 low-frequency antennas in Western Australia.

The dishes and antennae will work together as one giant observatory. As one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, the SKAO brings together more than 500 engineers and 1,000 scientists in more than 20 countries.

The observatory ​will be able to survey the sky much faster than existing radio telescopes, generating unprecedented volumes of data, and so will require powerful computing to handle the expected data rate of 30 terabits per second and to support the processing centres managing more than 600 petabytes a year. At these challenging scales, high performance computing and software design are a cornerstone of the project.

The UK collaboration partners of the University of Cambridge, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, RAL-Space, Daresbury, and UK ATC are managed at the UK ATC. The UK ATC is leading the development of software tools which astronomers will use to engage with the observatory, telling the telescopes where to look and when. 

The collaboration provides hardware for the telescopes to detect the radio signals as well as software teams that create specialised cutting-edge software to control and monitor the telescope operations, allow deta​iled calibration and processing of the huge amounts scientific data, and translate and transport the telescope signals into useable data from which discoveries can be made.

Construction on SKAO is expected to be completed by 2028.

Find out more about SKAO.