Australia, NZ And South Africa To Share Square Kilometre Array

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