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January 8 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


India has stepped into the ambitious Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) project, the world’s largest radio telescope initiative. This significant move involves a financial commitment of Rs 1,250 crore and highlights India’s pivotal role in cutting-edge astronomical research.

Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO):

  • Nature of SKAO: SKAO is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in the UK, aiming to construct and operate advanced radio telescopes.
  • Global Participation: Several countries, including the UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada, China, France, Italy, Germany, and India, are actively involved in building SKAO.
  • Project Objectives: SKAO involves an array of thousands of antennas distributed across remote locations in South Africa and Australia. The interconnected antennas function as one colossal unit, facilitating the observation and study of celestial phenomena. Additionally, SKAO delves into the study of gravitational waves.

India’s Involvement in SKAO:

  • Historical Context: India, spearheaded by the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), has been instrumental in shaping the SKAO project since the 1990s.
  • Key Contribution: India’s primary contribution lies in the development and operation of the Telescope Manager element. This critical component serves as the “neural network” or software controlling the entire telescope’s operation.
  • Note: NCRA, a research institution specializing in radio astronomy, is situated on the Pune University Campus and is part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai.

Radio Telescopes:

  • Definition: A radio telescope is a specialized antenna and receiver system designed to detect and collect radio waves emitted by celestial objects.
  • Working Principle: Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can operate during the daytime and nighttime. They capture radio waves with wavelengths ranging from 1 millimeter to 100 kilometers.
  • Applications: Radio telescopes are pivotal in studying diverse astronomical phenomena, including star and galaxy formation, black holes, interstellar medium, our solar system’s planets and moons, and the quest for extraterrestrial life.

Major Radio Telescopes:

  • Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT): Located near Pune, GMRT played a crucial role in detecting nano-hertz gravitational waves in June 2023, showcasing India’s prowess in cutting-edge astronomical research.
  • SARAS 3 (India): Underscores India’s commitment to advancing radio astronomy.
  • Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA): Situated in the Atacama Desert, Chile.
  • Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST): Located in China.

Gravitational Waves:

  • Definition: Gravitational waves are ripples or vibrations in spacetime, analogous to ripples formed when a pebble is dropped in a pond.
  • Einstein’s Prediction: Albert Einstein, in his theory of general relativity (1916), forecasted the existence of gravitational waves.
  • Research Importance: Gravitational wave research, exemplified by the Nobel Prize-winning LIGO detection in 2017, holds immense potential for groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

India’s Commitment to Gravitational Wave Research:

  • LIGO Expansion: India’s approval for the third LIGO node in Maharashtra underscores its dedication to advancing gravitational wave research.


India’s entry into the SKAO project marks a significant stride in global astronomy. With substantial financial backing and pivotal contributions to SKAO’s development, India is poised to play a central role in unraveling the mysteries of the universe.

This aligns with the broader commitment to cutting-edge astronomical research, evident in projects like LIGO’s expansion, showcasing India’s growing influence in the world of astrophysics.


January 8
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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