Having a picture of the first decades of the life of the universe, being able to capture the secrets of dark energy that powers more than 70% of it but still remains a mystery, and listening for any signs of alien civilizations: it is full Its construction, with thousands of dishes in South Africa and in African partner countries and a million antennas in Australia. Estimated cost 1.3 billion in the first phase of construction alone.
Italy is at the forefront of this adventure: under the guidance of the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf) it has followed the project from the start. University and Research Minister Anna Maria Bernini said the Ska Observatory “is one of the most ambitious projects to date and I am particularly proud to be able to say that this project is closely linked to Italy”. “It is evidence that Italy has all the resources to fully participate in the exploration of space from Earth. It is truly an extraordinary project. We are taking a fundamental step towards a broader understanding of the laws that govern the universe. And perhaps also towards expanding our view of the world.”
Since the start of global construction activities in July 2021, Skao has awarded more than 40 contracts worth over €150 million. During the day’s festivities new contracts totaling €300m were announced. Initial procurement focused on software development, contracting with professional service firms to help oversee construction and bulk purchase of necessary components. The four contracts announced at the officially kick-off ceremony relate to the construction of infrastructure in Australia and South Africa (200 million) and the production of medium and low frequency antennas (100 million). The total number of contracts awarded to date has exceeded 450 million euros.
Enav is the leader of the Italian Engagement, which includes several companies, subsidiaries and universities. “I am pleased to confirm our support for this remarkable project, an international effort that will lead us to reveal the secrets of the universe,” said Marco Tavani, INAF President. “Italy has been part of the Ska project from the very beginning: after the establishment of the IGO, and the start of the commissioning phase, we have finally come to the ceremonies for the start of the construction of telescopes on the two continents” . A story that began 30 years ago and has finally reached a crucial point.
The first phase of the work should be completed in 2028 and it is expected that over the next 50 years, astronomers and astrophysicists from around the world will have access to the SKA observatory to answer critical questions about the first decades of the life of the universe and to study some of the most mysterious objects in astrophysics. , such as black holes, the birth and evolution of galaxies, and the nature of the dark energy that makes up more than 70% of the universe; It would also allow for additional testing of the theory of relativity, and finally, listening in for any signals from alien intelligence with the most powerful instrument capable of doing so.
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