Square Kilometre Array Observatory
General Info

Jodrell Bank

Lower Withington, United Kingdom

legal status




The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) is an inter-governmental organisation and a global effort to build and operate the two largest and most sensitive radio telescope arrays on Earth. The SKA telescopes will be able to look back into the furthest reaches of the cosmos to study the first structures in the Universe, helping to understand some of the most fundamental questions in physics, as well as probing the nature of gravity and cosmic magnetism and exploring the origins of life itself. In 2011, coordinated efforts through a legal entity began, regarding the design and the policy making for the SKAO. In 2012, the members of the SKA Organisation (precursor to the Observatory) agreed on a dual site location for the SKA telescopes in the remote, radio-quiet regions of South Africa and Australia, while the site for the permanent headquarters – established in the UK – was decided in 2015. The construction phase began in 2021 with extensive procurement activities, and hardware and software development globally, followed by on-site construction the following year. Science verification is foreseen from 2027 using a partial array, before both telescopes are completed by the end of the decade.
Total Investment 2100 M€ Design Preparation Implementation Operation 100 M€/year Project Landmark 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2006
as landmark: 2016
Total investment
2100 M€
Design Phase
Preparation Phase
Implementation Phase
Operation start
100 M€/year
The SKAO’s impact is already being felt across its global membership, with industry developing technology solutions to meet the challenges of the SKA telescopes, and investments being made in training and infrastructure to ensure strong capacity in the science community. Impact in the telescope host countries includes site construction contracts with a focus on local participation, as well as traineeships targeting local and Indigenous communities. The SKAO is also generating substantial innovation in key technology areas such as information and communication technology (ICT) and renewable energy, as well as enabling knowledge transfer and human capital development. A high-profile endeavour like the SKAO excites not only scientists, but also the general and non-specialist public worldwide. In fact, astronomy appeals to our natural curiosity, and is also a stepping-stone to many other fields of science and technology development, including engineering, aerospace, mathematics and the natural sciences, all of which will have profound impact on our future economy and society.
As an ESFRI, the SKAO is committed to undertaking high-impact scientific activities on behalf of astronomers within its international Science Community to observe the sky at radio wavelengths and generate data products that support transformational science. We will do this by providing accessible and equitable processes and tools to facilitate the delivery of the best science, of the highest impact, from the broadest possible SKA scientific user community from Member and non-Member countries.
S S H D I G I T E N E E N V H & F
SKAO signed a collaboration agreement with ESO (European Southern Observatory) in 2023 with the aim to promote the strategic coordination of ESO’s and SKAO’s long-term plans. The agreement establishes a framework for mutual cooperation covering areas such as strategy and governance, communications, international relations, scientific coordination and sustainability, diversity and inclusion. An annual in-person DG-meeting is part of this framework.