South Africa is rallying Africa’s support to win the hosting of the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
South Africa and Australia were both shortlisted as possible host for the telescope and already South Africa is budgeting about 15 billion Rands to build the gigantic telescope if selected. The decision on who will be awarded the SKA hosting rights will be made in 2012.
Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of science and technology said the impact of the SKA on the African continent would be both positive and widespread. “The SKA will involve a wide range of talents coming together, from astronomy to civil and electrical engineering. It would bring an extensive range of skills and young professionals into the country,” she said.
She expressed optimism that no matter the outcome, South Africa would be a dominant player in global radio astronomy based on the lesson and knowledge acquire from the bid.
Bernie Fanaroff, Director of the SKA South Africa project said “we have been working on South Africa’s bid for more than eight years and we have impressed the world’s astronomy community beyond their expectations with our progress, expertise and the benefits we have to offer.”
“We are convinced that we have an outstanding site for the SKA, as well as people and expertise to build and operate this mega instrument,” he added.
Should South Africa defeat the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand majority of the SKA telescope antennas would be located in the country’s Northern Cape Province while remote antennas would be spread out at a distance of up to 3,000km.