Canada joins SKA as decision delayed

2012-03-23 10:29
Cape Town - The board of directors of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) organisation has announced that Canada has formally joined as an eighth member of the organisation.

At its meeting on March 19, the board formally recognised the admission of Canada which was represented by its National Research Council, Canada.

The SKA board also agreed to delay a final decision on the site to host the billion euro instrument which will link over 3 000 radio telescopes.

South African and Australia are bidding to host the telescope and both countries have built demonstrator instruments. SA has built the KAT 7 (Karoo Array Telescope) and Australia has produced the Askap (Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder).

A final decision was expected in March, and a top scientific panel has recommended SA as the host country for the SKA.

MeerKAT commitment

The board said that it would pass on those recommendations to the members of the organisation.

"The Board agreed to pass on the site recommendation to the members of the SKA Organisation, together with a commentary that captured the Board discussion and noted certain issues.

"The members will meet in Amsterdam on 3 April 2012, but it is not likely that this meeting will make a final decision on the site; rather it will be the start of a process of discussion and negotiation between the members," the board said.

Members of the advisory committee and siting group will be questioned before a final decision is made.

SA, though has committed itself to building the MeerKAT whether or not the country is granted the SKA.

"We will build MeerKAT, but we have an exciting initiative that we're currently trying to promote on the continent. That of building a VLBI [Very Long Baseline Interferometer] of radio satellites connected across the African continent and linking in to the VLBI network in Europe as well as the Americas," Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor told News24.

The MeerKAT will consist of 64 linked radio dishes, closely aligned with the build requirements for the SKA.

The next meeting of the board is scheduled for April 4.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    ska  |  astronomy

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