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SA won’t share SKA
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 19:47
Written by Farzana Rasool
SA is not engaged in any discussions to share the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) mega-telescope with Australia.
This is despite media reports saying talks are ongoing around a shared bid.
SKA SA project manager Bernie Fanaroff has confirmed that there are no talks between the countries of sharing the bid.
“Our minister’s view is that it will be discussed if it comes to the table but that has not happened.”
Department of Science and Technology (DST) spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele also denied that any talks of this nature are occurring.
“There hasn’t been a proposal for such a thing. At the moment, the minister says SA’s focus is to win the bid.”
Whether or not SA will be willing to share the telescope project, should it win, depends on proposals being put forward and what they entail, according to Ngqengelele.
Concerns around double infrastructure costs, should the project be shared, cannot be justified at this point, says Fanaroff.
“It depends on how it’s shared. There are various possibilities but none have been looked into, so it’s not clear if there will be a significant cost increase as a result of sharing.” The SKA is a global science project to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope.
It will give astronomers insight into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the Big Bang, the role of cosmic magnetism, the nature of gravity, and possibly even life beyond Earth.
“The SKA project will drive technology development in antennas, fibre networks, signal processing, software and computing, and power. The design, construction and operation of the SKA have the potential to impact skills development, employment and economic growth in science, engineering and associated industries, not only in the host countries but in all partner countries,” says the SKA Organisation.
It will consist of about 3 000 dish-shaped antennae and other hybrid receiving technologies that will be spread over a vast area of up to 3 000km.
SA is bidding against Australia to host the telescope. A decision on the location of the SKA will be made in February.
The African SKA site bid is led by SA’s DST, and includes Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana.
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