Feeds

Australia and South Africa shortlisted for giant radio 'scope

Square kilometre array, that is

High performance access to file storage

South Africa and Australia have been shortlisted as possible sites for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.

The telescope is being developed by scientists across 17 countries, and the recommendation was made by a group of seven scientists representing five nations.

The telescope, once built, will consist of thousands of antennae spread over an area of 3,000 square kilometres. Half of the dishes will be installed in a so-called core site, an area of 5km by 5km. The remainder will be more widely distributed.

It will be the largest telescope ever built and will be used to probe some of the most important questions in astronomy and cosmology. It will be used to investigate so-called dark energy, the origin of magnetism, and could be deployed in the search for extra terrestrial life, according to South Africa's minister for science and technology Mosibudi Mangena.

The Australian bid proposes the core site be located at Mileura Station, 100km west of Meekatharra in Western Australia (nearish to Perth). The antenna might be spread so widely that some end up in New Zealand, the CSIRO office says.

South Africa's proposal would see the core site being placed in the Karoo in the Northern Cape.

The other two bids were from China and Argentina. The SKA steering committee said the proposals were excellent, but each failed at least one of the exacting requirements.

Whichever site is chosen, it must have very low levels of man-made radio signals to avoid interfering with the cosmic radio waves the 'scope is designed to detect.

The Australian team thinks it has the edge on South Africa in this regard: "The West Australian site is better in this respect than any site in the world currently used for radio astronomy," said Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's Dr Michelle Storey, leader of the Australian SKA Planning Office.

Other important conditions include a good view of the Southern Hemisphere's sky, where the centre of the Milky Way goes overhead, and stable ionospheric conditions, particularly important for low frequency observations.

As you would expect with such a large bunch of boffins, argumentative by nature, there is disagreement even on when the final decision will be made. The South Africans expect it in 2008, but the Australians have their money on 2010. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.