The Dutch government will invest 30 million euros in the Dutch contribution to creating the largest radio telescope on earth, the Square Kilometre Array.
ASTRON, a radio astronomy institute in Drenthe, got the good news on Monday that the Dutch government would be chipping in on the project. “This ambitious project will lead to major discoveries about the nature of our Universe and answer longstanding questions”, according to a press release from ASTRON. The province of Drenthe has been petitioning to the Dutch government to invest in the project for nearly a year.
The SKA will consist of hundreds of satellites and hundreds of thousands of antennae in the deserts of South Africa and Australia. The goal of the project is to improve our understanding of the universe and provide answers to fundamental physics questions. Following the formal signing of a treaty agreement in Rome in March, ASTRON will coordinate the Dutch contributions to the project. Eleven countries will be working together to create the SKA.
ASTRON is leading a consortium that is developing antenna stations in Western Australia and is also taking part in designing ways to process the massive amounts of data generated by the array: one petabit per second.
The SKA is based on ASTRON’s Low Frequency ARRAY (LOFAR) in the Drenthe town of Exloo. RTV Drenthe reports that the SKA will eventually consist of 130,000 antennae. The project means that more scientific jobs will be coming to Drenthe: a research center will be built to analyse the data.
Dagblad van het Noordenreports that education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven oversees the allocation of funding for such projects, and has also approved of five million euros being set aside annually to increase gender and racial diversity in the sciences.
Photo source: ASTRON