Australian factual indie White Spark Pictures is embarking on a decade-long, multi-season documentary project following the construction of the SKA telescopes – considered one of the world’s greatest-ever scientific endeavours.
The World’s Largest Telescopes: Beyond The Milky Way will launch its first 2 x 60-minute series (or 1 x 90-minute special) in 2024, with two further seasons planned over the course of the decade, charting key milestones and discoveries along the way.
The SKA (Square Kilometre Array) project brings together astronomers, engineers and scientists from 16 participating countries to build the world’s largest and most capable network of radio telescopes, with the ability to see further into space than ever before.
The unprecedented scale of the project, eventually including hundreds of radio dishes across Southern Africa and hundreds of thousands of low-frequency antennas in Western Australia, will enable astronomers to observe the first stars and galaxies to exist in the Universe and give humanity its best-ever chance of discovering if there is life beyond Earth.
After three decades of planning, the SKAO (Square Kilometre Array Observatory, the organisation which runs the telescopes) started initial construction activities around the world in July 2021. Next month, the next phase begins with the start of on-site construction at two of the most radio-quiet places on Earth: outback Western Australia and South Africa’s Karoo.
White Spark Pictures has negotiated access to film this feat of engineering, due to be completed at the end of the decade, as well as to capture international collaboration at play at the SKAO’s UK headquarters and the work of astronomers on the ground in both locations.
Briege Whitehead, founder and creative director at White Spark Pictures said: “With The World’s Largest Telescopes: Beyond The Milky Way we will be capturing a monumental, ground-breaking international project and I am honoured that all the leading scientific institutions involved are putting their trust in me to bring their endeavours to the screen and tell the SKA’s incredible story to viewers around the world.
“The telescopes will be capable of showing us so much over time – from how galaxies and black holes are formed to if there is life on other planets. Indeed, the established pre-cursor telescopes are already making major scientific breakthroughs on a regular basis, so what we will be able to learn over the next decade could not only redefine current levels of understanding but also reshape mankind’s future.”