South Africa heats up hosting bid for SKA telescope
South Africa has nailed down its commitment to hosting the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), with Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor stating that much work has been done in preparation for the telescope.
SA, partnered with eight other African countries, is competing with Australia (allied with New Zealand) to host the SKA, a multibillion rand international radio telescope which is 50 to 100 times more sensitive than any other on Earth.
“South Africa’s own national commitment to advancing the SKA project has been cemented in all spheres of our Government, including at the provincial level,” said Pandor, speaking at the SKA meeting in Banff, Canada.
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“We have chosen an exceptionally good site for the SKA in a remote region of South Africa, a region with very little economic activity. We have provided statutory protection for the site through the Geographic Astronomy Advantage Act,” she added.
South Africa has partnered with Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia in the bid to host the SKA.
An international panel of experts will decide next year where the SKA will be located. Construction work is scheduled to begin around 2016 and the first astronomical observations expected by 2019, with the fully functional telescope ready in 2024.