SA, China sign SKA partnership agreement

The SKA, to be completed in South Africa and Australia, is an international collaboration to build the world's largest radio telescope of one million square metres.

The Square Kilometre Array is a large multi-radio telescope hosted by Australia and South Africa. On Friday 64 operational radio telescopes will be launched at the SKA site outside Carnarvon. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor has signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the Astronomy Institute of China partnering with South Africa on the Square Kilometre Array project exchange programme.

This is part of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) in Beijing, China on Monday. The Focac Coordinators Meeting is taking place on Monday and Tuesday.

Pandor, who is in Beijing, signed the MOU between the South African Radio Astronomy Observation, the National Astronomical Observatory and the Chinese Academy of Science. The plan includes a skills exchange programme, that will see young scientists working in each other's countries.

The SKA is an international collaboration to build the world's largest radio telescope, of one million square metres. The project has unleashed new research programmes, educational initiatives and collaborations to train the next generation of scientists. In 2018, the precursor to the SKA, the MeerKAT radio telescope, comprising 64 satellite dishes, was completed.

It will deploy thousands of radio telescopes and enable astronomers to survey the sky thousands of times faster than any system currently in existence.

Pandor said on Monday China was fully committed to participating in building the radio telescope.

Young people from South Africa will also have the opportunity to further their studies in China for postgraduate studies in astronomy sciences and astro physics, among other subjects needed in the operation of the SKA.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)