SKA debate still raging

2012-03-23 23:14

Johannesburg - An international consortium planning to build the world's most powerful radio telescope is still debating whether South Africa or Australia should host the $2bn project, an official said on Friday.

Scientists hope the Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, will shed new light on fundamental questions about the universe, including how it began, why it is expanding and whether it contains life beyond our planet.

The SKA board of directors met on Monday in Manchester, England, where the project is headquartered, to discuss the still-secret recommendation of the best host for the hundreds of antennas that will pick up faint signals from across the universe.

"We don't really know" when the final decision will come, Bernie Fanaroff, director of SKA Africa, told AFP.

The board on Monday agreed to pass the site recommendation to the members of the consortium, which is set to meet on April 3 in Amsterdam, it said in a statement on its website.

"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," it said.

A decision had been expected on April 4.

If South Africa wins the bidding, engineers will connect antennas in the arid Karoo region by remote link to a network of dishes stretching across southern and eastern Africa and as far away as Ghana.

Australia's bid puts the core site at Mileura station, about 100km west of Meekathara, in western Australia. Other antennas would be distributed across Australia and New Zealand.

The new instrument will be 50 to 100 times more sensitive than today's most powerful radio telescopes.

  • Phillie - 2012-03-23 23:41

    I think we are going to lose this bid purely because the world has lost it's enchantment with SA because of the utterances and antics of the ilk of malema and like minded idiots

  • Gideon - 2012-03-24 07:14

    I do hope we get this project, it would mean a lot for science in South Africa.

  • Jean - 2012-03-24 09:05

    I just want us to get it purely cos I don't want Aus AND NZ to get it... besides it is good job creation, we have plans to develop the Meerkat, I don't think we need to worry about anything being screwed up cos it is a international project and we are going to share this project with 6/7 other countries so we needed to do proper planning and for the board to consider us means we did well.

  • Khumbulani Ngema - 2012-03-24 09:06

    I hope SA wins this one...@Philile: not everything has to be about politics, come on now...

  • brainbowgold - 2012-03-24 21:37

    This project is immensely exciting massively important to Africa. Use your influence to spread the positive vibrations!

  • brainbowgold - 2012-03-24 21:39

    This project is immensely exciting and massively important to Africa. Use your influence to spread the positive vibrations!

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