SKA telescope to be split between Australia and South Africa
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will share the location for the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array’s scientific consortium announced on Friday.
AUSTRALIA, New Zealand and South Africa will share the location for the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array’s scientific consortium announced on Friday.
“We have decided on a dual site approach,” said SKA board chairperson John Wommersley at a press conference held at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, following a meeting of the SKA organisation’s members in the Dutch capital.
South Africa’s site for the project is the Karoo region in the Northern Cape, while the joint site spreads from the Murchison Shire in Western Australia’s Mid-West region to the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
The Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, will be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever made and will allow scientists to see back in time.
The $2 billion project comprising 3000 dishes will be funded by a consortium of 20 nations and seeks to answer the biggest questions about the early universe.
With a discovery potential 10,000 times greater than the best present-day instruments, it will observe such things as what happened after the big bang and how galaxies evolved, and will attempt to uncover more about the “dark energy” that fills the majority of the universe.
The telescope array, which is expected to have a working life of several decades, could even detect signals that may be from extraterrestrials.
According to Scientific American magazine, the South African bid was at one stage viewed as narrowly superior to the joint proposal because the site was at a higher altitude and construction costs were lower.
The Australia/New Zealand bid, on the other hand, offered cheaper insurance costs and less likelihood of the site being encroached on by future development.
Both sites were shortlisted because they were regions of minimal radio interference. – AAP
More to follow…
What are your initial thoughts? Will splitting the project cause more problems than it will solve? Tell us below: