Weekend reports suggest Australia’s bid for the Square Kilometre Array has hit what can only be described as a monumental snag. Our plans for the 3000-dish radio telescope, which would likely be constructed near Geraldton in WA (and parts of New Zealand), have been rejected by the panel of scientists put together to officially weigh in on proposals for the array.
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald states the panel, also known as the SKA Site Advisory Committee, preferred the lower power and data transfer costs of South Africa over that of Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid.
Not all is lost — the committee is only providing a recommendation — with the UK, China, the Netherlands and Italy having the final say. While low costs are always attractive, Australia and NZ are hoping their “security … attractive lifestyle[s] and conducive business environment[s]” and “clear atmospheric conditions” will get them over the line.
The telescope itself sounds like a fancy piece of kit, with the power to “pick up the equivalent of a television signal on a planet light years away”, it’s the only chance we have of discovering an episode of extra-terrestrial comedy to rival that of the IT Crowd’s “The Work Outing”.