6 million SEK boost for Onsala Space Observatory

A substantial new grant from the Swedish Research Council means a big boost for Onsala Space Observatory’s preparations for the world’s most advanced radio telescope. Onsala Space Observatory has been awarded 6.6 MSEK (about 760 000 euro) for work in preparing for the giant radio telescope SKA, the Square Kilometre Array. ”We’re going to develop new technology for both antennas and receivers for the SKA”, says John Conway, deputy director for Onsala Space Observatory.

In summer 2012 Sweden joined the international consortium that is preparing to build the SKA. It will be by far the world’s largest radio telescope, located in South Africa and Australia. The telescope will be used to look for answers to some of our most fundamental questions about the universe and our place in it.

The grant will make it possible for Onsala Space Observatory and Chalmers to fully participate in the preparations for SKA. It will finance design studies for the thousands of advanced antennas that will together form the telescope. The observatory will also develop and test broadband feeds - components which form the link between antenna and receiver.
”Observations with SKA will make breakthroughs in our understanding how the structure of the universe has formed and evolved”, says John Conway. “For that we need extremely sensitive antennas. The broadband feed will be a key component for the telescope when it is searching for traces of gravitational waves in radio signals from pulsars.”

Hans Olofsson, director of Onsala Space Observatory, is delighted by the new grant.
”With this grant, the Swedish Research Council has demonstrated that the SKA project is of great interest for Sweden”, he says.

Text: Robert Cumming
Photo: SKA Organisation/TDP/DRAO/Swinburne Astronomy Productions