Client: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project
Services: Impact Evaluation,
Project Date: 2016

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project is a major international scientific cutting-edge astronomy initiative involving 10 member states and being hosted in South Africa and Australia.

The intellectual impact of the SKA’s astronomical work can hardly be overstated, in many cutting-edge areas of science, including data science and big data and machine learning.

SKA will be up to 10 000 times faster than the best radio telescopes of today, and will detect radio waves from objects millions or even billions of light years away from earth.

The South African Government has given steadfast support to the SKA project.

According to SKA South Africa’s Director: Strategy, Adrian Tiplady, “The instrument is projected to be between 50 and 100 times more powerful than any radio astronomy facility ever built, an array of some 4 500 radio telescopes distributed over an area 3 000 km in extent. Combining the signals from each of these telescopes using a supercomputer 100 times more powerful than anything that exists today will create a virtual telescope, spanning 3 000 km in diameter, with a total collecting area of one square kilometre – the equivalent of over a million DSTV satellite dishes. This will result in an instrument with unparalleled sensitivity and resolution” (Tiplady. 2010. Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa Vol 69 Nos 1 & 2). The SKA will furthermore record light that was emitted as far back as two to three hundred million years after the Big Bang, when only two percent of the current universe was formed. This will for the first time offer insight into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies.

Impact Economix was commissioned by the Karoo Development Foundation to identify the economic impacts of SKA on the South African National economy as part of a Strategic Environmental Assessment being undertaken by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Impact Economix reviewed impact assessment frameworks for global research infrastructure projects.