Overnight the decision on the SKA array — which we’ve reported on previously— was made in London, although that’s a private decision that we won’t know for some time. Australia’s chief scientist has urged the board to ensure that its decision is based on science, not politics.
The Age quotes Ian Chubb on the SKA project, stating that he’s warning against “other considerations” getting in the way of getting the SKA project — a “once in a lifetime opportunity” right.
“There’s no point compromising the science for some other consideration that might be important in 2012. Because by 2030 people will ask ‘well why did they do that’ as by then, there will be different political considerations. Meanwhile the scientific considerations will remain the same.”
There’s also concern that the board might recommend a compromise solution that splits the array between Africa, Australia and New Zealand; the report quotes CSIRO’s head of astrophysics Simon Johnston as saying this would be a poor decision for science.
“The scientists are against splitting the array. What the SKA can give us is unique sensitivity; 100 times or more than what we can currently get. But to do that you need all the collecting area in the one spot. As soon as you start dividing up the collecting area you lose sensitivity.”