SKA is a big science project for SA

2012-04-02 14:40

Cape Town - The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a project on the scale of the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator on the French and Swiss border in Europe.

"It's important to understand what the Square Kilometre Array project really means. It's at the present time, the world's largest science project," Dr Bernie Fanaroff, director of SKA South Africa told News24.

"When it is built it will be on the scale of the particle accelerator at Cern [European Council for Nuclear Research]. The SKA is on that sort of scale, if not bigger."

SA is bidding against Australia to host the project which will see over 3 000 linked radio telescopes being built. SA has already built the KAT 7 (Karoo Array Telescope) which consists of seven dishes as a precursor to the MeerKAT which will consist of 64 dishes in the Northern Cape province.

The first KAT 7 radio telescope was installed in July 2009, beating the Australians by about six months in producing their demonstration Askap (Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder) instrument.

Team capacity

"Having it on the African continent is going to be a very dramatic statement about what we can do in Africa," Fanaroff said.

The SKA SA team has agreements with technology companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel to solve several technical problems to ensuring that the collected data from the instrument is processed, but not contaminated.

"Cisco and Google are also talking to us and this is a recognition of the fact that all of a sudden, people are realising that in South Africa in particular and Africa in general, we have outstanding technical capacity," said Fanaroff.

He acknowledged the capacity of the South African team that compiled the information for the bid.

"One of the big advantages we had is that we have such an excellent team in this country: The team that put together our bid I think consists of the most outstanding young people in science and engineering anywhere in the world.

"The sheer volume is what that team put together is mind boggling: We sent 27 000 pages of evidence, designs and information as put of our bid. That was a lot of work."

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  • Philemon - 2012-04-02 14:53

    What a waste of money!

      Corne - 2012-04-02 14:59

      What an idiot

      Nigel - 2012-04-02 15:00

      you'd rather the ANC wasted billions on incompetence

      John - 2012-04-02 15:23

      Philemon you are an uneducated buffoon....

      John - 2012-04-02 15:25

      You are an uneducated Buffoon....

      Glyn - 2012-04-02 15:55

      I take it that you are sending these idiot messages on a government computer? That computer was invented by guys who know science.

      Truthor - 2012-04-02 16:42

      What a waste of Oxygen!

      mal10s - 2012-04-02 17:42

      I don't think the cost of this compares with what the ANC is forking out for state funerals and other parties at this stage...

  • thomas.robbertse - 2012-04-02 15:01

    Being a South African with a science and technology background I'm confident that we have what it takes to successfully win and honour the bid for our country and the continent. We should focus on the future and stop being negative about our capabilities. Lets have a SKA day and show our commitment as a community..

  • Jaco - 2012-04-02 15:09

    Awesome! Go on SA!

  • John - 2012-04-02 15:22

    Good luck Guys i know you will do a better job above all at a much cheaper cost than OZ.....

  • odupreez - 2012-04-02 15:38

    Another waste of money with absolutely no return, just like Septic Bladders World Cup raped the country.

      Truthor - 2012-04-02 16:42

      What a waste of Oxygen with absolutely no return...

      wesleywt - 2012-04-02 20:42

      Sure du preez. Fast broadband internet to process the data, massive construction projects in poor rural areas. Production of highly skilled technical people who will work on other projects later. Yes du preez, its a waste of money.

      Glyn - 2012-04-02 21:58

      Go back to driving your osawa!

  • Glyn - 2012-04-02 15:52

    Would you invest so much science and money in a country that enforces a racist AA BEE policy? If we do not get it we all know the reason. Hope that we do get it!!

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2012-04-02 16:45

    They are already busy with a similar big project in that area and are currently on track and doing a good job. Yes, this will enlarge the whole project enormously and I hope we get it. Funny that we do not get told properly what was done already. The bit that the normal guy read is not even a tenth of what is happening. Maybe I must not be surprised because wind-farms pop up like mushrooms in the West to North West Cape and it also not get mentioned properly. New mine get build and old ones revamp in the Namaqwaland area and no news reports. If they go on like this the area will become one big mine area. New way of mining with the minimum water open. No word. Mines that mine radio active stuff with the minimum water and therefore much more dangerous open and no word. New minerals get discovered or new uses for them. Minerals that they started mining in that area and no word. Maybe news reporters became copy and paste reporters and do not do popper story hunting anymore. Towns in North Cape are on the brink of becoming cities, due to expansion of mines, but no word. A property in small town were bought up and no word. Is it only me or do the reporters/news-houses only concentrating on the bad and racial news. Do the people know about all the positive things that are happening in SA? Sorry guys, I am off the story, but seeing we discus a new a new development I thought of asking these questions.

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-04-02 16:47

      "All" property in small towns.

  • Adam - 2012-04-02 17:10

    Even if Australia gets it, it will still be built by South Africans.

  • tobydt - 2012-04-02 19:42

    GO SKA GO!!!

  • Douglas - 2012-04-02 21:57

    One cannot but be impressed by the outstanding work performed so far. I know a person on the team, and what we've accomplished so far is nothing short of amazing. We seem to be quite a few steps ahead of the Australians. One more thing...I'm led to believe, quite incredibly, that the amount of data that will be flowing around at SKA in 2018 would be a whopping four times the GLOBAL amount of data flowing around today. The technology to achieve this is of course not around today...but it is foreseen to be by the time it all goes online. Certainly interesting times ahead!

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