CANBERRA, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Construction on the world's largest radio telescope has begun in the Australian outback.
After three decades of development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) on Monday launched construction of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in Western Australia (WA).
A collaboration among 16 countries, the SKA will initially consist of two telescope arrays, the SKA-Low in WA and the SKA-Mid in South Africa's Karoo region, operated by the SKA Observatory (SKAO).
When completed, the SKA-Low, comprising more than 130,000 antennas, will be able to map the sky 135 times faster than existing comparable telescopes.
The SKA will allow astronomers to look back to the early history of the universe when stars and galaxies were first formed.
It is the first mega-science project hosted in Australia and is expected to drive significant technological advancements during its lifetime of more than 50 years.
Larry Marshall, chief executive of the CSIRO, said the beginning of construction approximately 800 kilometers north of Perth is a landmark moment for the Australian scientific community.
"The progress of the SKA project over the past two decades has allowed us to see further into the Universe than ever before. It has driven innovation and inspired generations both new and old through the development of technologies to solve great challenges facing our planet by better understanding the Universe," he said in a media release.
"The start of SKA-Low construction on site is the culmination of many dreams, both within CSIRO and the global astronomy community, and the next step on this journey of discovery. CSIRO is honored to be a key partner with the SKAO into a better future enabled by science."
The CSIRO is collaborating with the SKAO to build and operate the telescopes. ■