Powering up: Minister Chris Evans says the National Broadband Network service will facilitate the SKA.
Powering up: Minister Chris Evans says the National Broadband Network service will facilitate the SKA.

The rollout of the National Broadband Network is vital to implementing the world’s largest scientific project said Science and Research Minister Chris Evans.

A next-generation radio telescope, known as a square kilometre array (SKA), is set to be built in the Mid West region.

Mr Evans visited Geraldton to speak to the public about the project and open the Murchison Support Facility at the Geraldton Universities Centre.

The support facility will be a base for science and researchers working on the project.

The SKA is reported as having a discovery potential 10,000 times greater than the best present-day instruments.

There are already 36 dishes, along with 100 small low-frequency dishes that make up the Murchison Widefield Array.

The Murchison Radio astronomy Observatory is near the centre of the SKA site as well as home to the Australian SKA pathfinder.

The region around the observatory is characterised by an extremely low population density, excellent observing conditions and pristine radio-quiet environment.

It will give astronomers remarkable insights into the formation of the early universe, including the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.

Mr Evans said Geraldton was already benefiting from the development of the multi-million dollar project.

“The SKA will result in ongoing employment for Geraldton residents on its operational services,” Mr Evans said.

Scientists and researchers have been visiting the site and are very interested in its developments.

The SKA will explore whether there are Earth-like planets around other stars and whether they host intelligent life.

It will explore the first black holes and stars to answer the question of what happened after the big bang and before the first stars and galaxies formed.

It was announced this year the SKA would be shared between Australia-New Zealand and southern Africa.

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