Are humans alone in space? World’s largest radio telescope will try to find out

Malta with observer status at world body that will operate gigantic telescope that will scan the sky

A precursor of SKA, the MWA telescope is located on the Murchison Radio astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. (Photo: Curtin University)
A precursor of SKA, the MWA telescope is located on the Murchison Radio astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. (Photo: Curtin University)

Malta has taken up observer status at newly formed global body that will operate a gigantic radio telescope that will be set up in Australia and South Africa.

Known as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre of collecting area.

Billed as one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, the SKA will eventually use thousands of dishes and up to a million low-frequency antennas that will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail.

Malta holds observer status in the project through the Malta Council for Science and Technology, which appointed astrophysicist Kristian Zarb Adami from the Malta Institute for Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA) to sit on the SKA board.

Earlier this month, the governing body for this project was formally set up in Rome. Malta’s Ambassador to Italy Vanessa Frazier attended the milestone agreement.

The signing was welcomed by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo who said Malta was honoured to have played a role in this historic moment.

The ambitious project aims to answer the more pertinent questions as to how the galaxy was formed and evolved over the past 10 billion years. It will also try to determine whether humans are the only intelligent life in space.

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