Australia, NZ And South Africa To Share Square Kilometre Array

The Square Kilometre Array has had its fair share of controversy. In March, it was leaked that Australia's proposal had been upstaged by South Africa and in April, we found out the final decision on where it would be constructed had been delayed. Well, the wait is over — the SKA Organisation has announced that everyone concerned will get a gold star, with the array to be built in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

ZDNet writes that the decision was made yesterday, with John Womersley, the board's chairman, saying that a "dual site approach" was the best way to go.

The first phase of construction isn't scheduled to start until 2016 and even then, most of the telescopes will be constructed in South Africa with "further SKA dishes" finding a home in CSIRO's Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in Western Australia.

While I'm sure everyone will be hoping we detect signs of alien life — in fact, it's one of the stated purposes of the array — the $2 billion, 3000-dish radio telescope will likely be used for more mundane scientific applications, such as investigating the origins of the universe, the properties of dark matter as well as "the role of magnetism in the cosmos [and] the nature of gravity".

[SKA Telescope, via ZDNet]

Image: Chuck Coker / Flickr


Comments

    Im sorry but how does splitting the array up on other sides on the planet (out of line of sight) get us the biggest array ever built... It seems as Usal science got a back seat to people who just want to make money.

    The array is split up by definition. So separation isn't actually an issue scientifically. What is an issue is that now it will cost twice as much. So they'll only get half the science. The decision was basically a compromise between helping poor Africa and doing actual science in australia.

      " that now it will cost twice as much"
      it s not going twice as much since Australia will probably see none of it.

        copied post
        "there are 3000 antennas. Of these 2870 will be built in Africa, 30 in NZ and there will be some added to CSIRO's existing SQA to make a total of about a 100 in Australia. There are already 36 there, so we get to build about 64 out of a the total 3000 we were shooting for. All the big dollar processing etc is in Africa. "

        Australia gets nothing, and science either

    I thought that spreading the array would be advantageous.
    better if you have some in orbit and on the moon.

    What a load of political BS.
    Everyone knows Australia was the better choice.
    Oh, and they wait and wait and wait and eventually give us the decision on...........
    Africa Day !!!

    So not a waste of money. This project is breathtaking. My understanding is the array is being split on frequency. Each site gets one square kilometre of array, South Africa high-frequency radio dishes and Australia low-frequency fixed antenna. It's a win-win.

    Now if the South Africans could just let us win at cricket ... all would be even.

    The reason most will be built in South Africa is technical.
    The political aspect is that Australia and New Zeland got any at all.
    Firstly the hardware can be built in South Africa as has been done before.
    Australia imports their radio scopes from China.
    These scopes are not as accurate so Australia would most likely have to import scopes from South Africa or set up production under licence.
    South Africa has power and roads near the site , Australia does and would have to spend hundreds of millions to establish these.
    The South African site is at a higher elevation and thus geographically better suited.
    South Africa already has one the largest optical telescopes and some radio telescopes in the area.
    All of the above are the reason the international evaluation committee had recommended South Africa as the preferred site.
    Technically better and cheaper.
    Politics however played a trump card over science.

      Master Q, the technical report was just a part of their considerations. There are a number of other factors, including funding, security, social, etc.

    Did you know Australia was going to start its own satellite / space launch site but way back it was stopped for political reasons by the commonwealth which stated we were to young a nation .... WHAT A LOAD OF CODSWALLOP !

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