SKA: Aus silent on report favouring SA

2012-03-10 17:01

Sydney - Australian officials were unavailable for comment on Saturday on a press report that South Africa is the favourite to host the world's largest radio telescope.

Australian and South Africa are bidding for the $2bn Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, with the winner to be decided later this year.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that an independent expert panel, the SKA Advisory Committee, was backing South Africa rather than Australia.

'Crippling blow'

It said the panel had dealt Australia's chances "a crippling blow" but that a final decision rested with a vote next month among China, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands.

Science Minister Chris Evans visited China and Italy last month to press Australia's case.

Twenty countries are expected to put up money for the SKA, an instrument powerful enough to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the evolution of the universe, including the formation of the first stars and galaxies.

The telescope will also be used to search for extraterrestrial life. Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2016 and be finished by 2024.

The Australian bid promises an area free from other radio interference - and almost free of people - nearly the size of Britain.

There would be 3 000 super-sensitive radio dishes arrayed starfish-fashion over 5 500 kilometres, half of them on a 5-square-kilometre patch of desert at Murchison, 600 kilometres north of Perth, and the rest stretching across the continent and over to New Zealand.

If South Africa gets the nod, the SKA core station would be in the Karoo desert, with remote stations in Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique and Zambia.

  • jeanpierre.dumont - 2012-03-10 17:39

    They can't win everything

  • Adil Smit - 2012-03-10 17:53

    We'll have to see how the UK and Netherlands will vote : SHELL wants to frack the Karoo.

      Mark - 2012-03-10 18:23

      Shell wants to f@#k-up the Karoo.

      Glyn - 2012-03-11 19:03

      Can frack and have the SKA.

  • Tshepo - 2012-03-10 17:59

    Of course they are....

  • Fanie - 2012-03-10 18:34

    South Africa's government is corrupt and not Australia. In SA the steel and copper will be stolen, not in Aus, People to come and visit will be robbed and high jacked, not in Aus.

      Johan Blom - 2012-03-10 19:33

      Then F-off to Oz and never open your mouth about us again ........

      Wanda Zonke - 2012-03-10 20:35

      fannie, i think you should move to Australia..... the lesser people we have like you, the better for this country...

      Johan - 2012-03-11 14:12

      This is like the Soccer World Cup rubbish all over again. Fanie & Margie, this country has lots of problems, but the biggest problem is people like you. Please leave. And I really mean it. It will be better for you AND us.

      Glyn - 2012-03-11 19:06

      Projects like the World Cup and the SKA will force the anc government to PRODUCE a thing of Excellence! Which will be tough for the anc!

      Chad - 2012-03-13 12:52

      @johan blin I have packed my bags and left. I sleep peacefully and I am far less stressed. it hurt me to much watching my country decline. It's safer from a distance. Yes I read sa news daily, I guess because a part of me wants to ratify my decision. And from what I read I am left pondering the question, how low can sa go. And again based on sa reporting, pretty low. So perhaps farnie is right. And perhaps you need to take a chill pill and get out too. Look at your words. You are an angry person....

      Gideon - 2012-03-13 18:57

      So Chad, stop reading SA news if you're in Oz. enjoy your life in Australia and leave the rest of us alone. We do not need hypocritical comments from somebody claiming supposed moral "high ground", I still very much love living in SA and being a part of this country. Read your newspapers and keep your self-rightous comments to yourself. I enjoy living in a free country, with all its issues, and not in a nanny state.

  • Sherwin Singh - 2012-03-10 18:50

    Good luck getting the Chinese to vote for u, u Aussie plicks!!!! SA FTW

  • Danie - 2012-03-10 21:32

    Just love it turning one on the Aus.

  • John - 2012-03-10 22:00

    Am I biased towards Australia hosting The "betcha"....but apart from the sentimental reasons, the Australian bid outstrips the SA bid by lightyears!!! Yes we are further away from Europe and the USA (where the majority of scientists would come from)...ever heard of air travel?....other "observations" could be down remotely...Ever heard of the Internet or Jodrell Bank?? And of course THE BIGGIE...Australia is a politically and socially stable country...and we are ONE country!! Good luck to the caretakers and users of The SKA if it ends up in SA..the project will be set up in seven countries, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya and Zambia. Not exactly the doyans of social & political stability..the moment one of the tinpot dictators don't get their way, this project will be held to let's hope that the information in this report, does not preclude Australia from hosting The SKA. Otherwise, let me see if I can explain ?Australia's situation using physics. What would you be if you were attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helicly around an axis. "Screwed."

      Rupesh - 2012-03-10 22:51

      I am biased towards South Africa. I agree with you that Aus is more politically stable but when it comes to the SKA and what we have done with the meerkat, we are scientifically (in this field) superior. This has been now verified by the SKA scientific community. Yes, it will be bad if one those African countries in the consortium lets SA down but its just as bad if NZ gets another earth quake then Oz's only other partner may be out, whereas one dictator won't spoil the whole project for SA in a similar manner. This is called spreading your risk. This project will do wonders for SA and if the world cup and the meerkat is to go by, we can do this. (i dont doubt Aus can do it too).

      Johan Blom - 2012-03-10 23:51

      If the technical committee adjudged our bid as the preferred one it is economically and scientifically superior to the Australian bid . No amount of opinion or sentimentality can change that . That is what the TECHNICAL committee is for!

      Dion - 2012-03-11 00:57

      I believe oz has been having quite a lot of political turmoil of late, no so? That aside, SA is closer to Europe as you say, and the same time zone. But importantly our site is also much closer to support and gateway cities like Cape Town. That's one of the reasons why SA will be so much better value for money as host. On top of that, our Meerkat precursor and supporting projects are very advanced, and our bid is supported and endorsed at every level of govt. We should get it, and we will do a great job.

      Johan - 2012-03-11 10:13

      John, which of the points you made do you think the technical committy was not aware of? And are you saying that you studied the pros and cons of the two proposals better than the technical committy did?

      Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2012-03-12 04:20

      Politically and scientifically superior to Australia... that's a false statement in all it's worth. I'm all for South Africa but I'm also a realist. Australia ranks number 2 in the world on the human development index while South Africa rank 123 still with catching up on things like the basic needs of power etc and still suffering from the biggest brain drain in the history of SA. In terms of science and cosmology Aus are producing people like Physicist Brian Schmidt Nobel prize winner of 2011 and Stuart Wyithe scientist of the year. You talk of the meerKat and they have something called the pathfinder. Secondly their country is one of the first to successfully roll out the National Broadband Network... that's an entire country running on Fiber obtic with speeds of 1000Mbps right to the homes of residents, while the rest of the world still uses copper wires. That's enough speed and power to process the data anywhere in their country. Part of the reason for the vote that this article fails to mention is that the European panel is compassionate towards Africa's desperate situations and a project like this will help Africa's economy and development. Do some research and see for yourself. In any case, I still beleive that South Africa has the will and heart to do it. :) Think Big and go for it... that's exactly what a country like SA should be doing.

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