Pretoria, South Africa, 1 June 2020 – South Africa, the future home of the SKA’s mid-frequency telescope, has ratified the Convention Establishing the SKA Observatory after the South African Parliament approved the Convention and Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, signed the Instrument of Ratification.
It is the third country after the Netherlands and Italy to complete its national process supporting the establishment of the SKA Observatory; the intergovernmental organisation responsible for building and operating the SKA telescopes, and the first of the SKA’s three host countries to do so.
South Africa was among the seven countries that signed the Convention in Rome on 12 March 2019, alongside Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The Convention will enter into force once five countries, including the three hosts Australia, South Africa and the UK, ratify the text.
“This is a significant moment not only because South Africa is the first of our hosts to ratify the Convention, but with three countries having ratified the SKA Convention, we are now closer to the SKA Observatory formally existing” said SKA Director-General Prof. Philip Diamond.
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) has been leading the country’s participation in the SKA on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation.
South Africa is already home to two precursor telescopes: the 64-dish MeerKAT array which will ultimately form part of SKA mid-frequency telescope, and the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA), which is under construction. As well as conducting world-class research, MeerKAT is also providing vital input for SKA design work and science planning.