In this time exposure photo taken Monday, April 2, 2012, the moon and stars are seen above telescope dishes near the Karoo town of Carnarvon, South Africa, which is announced Friday May 25, 2012, as the site of the proposed Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project. A giant radio telescope made up of some 3,000 separate 15-meter (49-foot) diameter dishes and intended to help scientists answer fundamental questions about the make-up of the universe will be built and based in both Australia and South Africa, the international consortium overseeing the project announced Friday. AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam
South Africa (AP)—Australia and South Africa will share hosting of a
giant radio telescope made up of thousands of separate dishes and
intended to help scientists figure out the make-up of the universe, the
international consortium overseeing the project announced Friday.
Africa led an African consortium that included Botswana, Ghana, Kenya,
Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia, and telescopes
will be erected in all its partners. In South Africa, dishes will be
added to a remote site in the arid Karoo desert where a smaller radio
telescope project already is under way.
Africa and Australia, which partnered with New Zealand in bidding for
the project, had competed fiercely. South Africa claimed victory Friday,
saying it got two of the project’s three major components.
may feel slightly disappointed that we didn’t get the whole thing. But I
think one should emphasize that we did get most of it,” said Justin
Jonas, the chief South African scientist on the project. “Two-thirds of
the biggest instrument in the world is still the biggest instrument in
Africa’s science minister Naledi Pandor and scientists who had prepared
the country’s bid celebrated with an Africa-shaped cake at a news
conference in South Africa’s capital.
marks a real turning point in Africa, where we are becoming a
destination for science and engineering, and not just a place where
there are resources and tourism opportunities,” Jonas added.
Australia also welcomed the split decision.
is an outstanding result for the Australia-New Zealand bid after many
years of preparation and an intensive international process,” said Sen.
Chris Evans, Australia’s science minister.
Square Kilometer Array telescope will be 50 times more sensitive and
scan the sky 10,000 times faster than any existing telescope. It
requires huge open spaces with very few humans.
Womersley, chair of the consortium’s board, said the telescope will
help scientists answer key questions: “Where do we come from? Where are
we going? What is this universe we live in?”
“We don’t understand what 96% of our universe is made of,” he said.
organization said dividing construction of the telescope will “maximize
on investments already made by both Australia and South Africa.”
said that splitting construction between the two nations will likely
add around 10% to the €350 million ($439 million) cost of the
first phase of building the giant telescope. But he said there would be a
payoff for astronomers.
delivers more science in phase one. The capabilities of this instrument
are greater than the original design,” Womersley said.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder contributed from Amsterdam.
Source: The Associated Press