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Australasian proposal to host most powerful radio telescope submitted

New Zealand and Australia have submitted their written proposal to host the Square Kilometre Array, the world's most powerful radio telescope.

Alex Walls
Fri, 16 Sep 2011

Australia and New Zealand have submitted their proposal to host the Square Kilometre Array.

The Square Kilometre Array will be the most powerful radio telescope ever built and is estimated to cost about €1.5 billion. 

The telescope will consist of several thousand dishes up to 5,500 kilometres apart, working as a single telescope and if Australasia wins the hosting rights, will be spread over the two countries with about two out stations likely in New Zealand.  Each station will require about 30 to 40 dishes of about 15 metres in diameter, which will transmit about 160 gigabits per second to a central processing core.

The cost for New Zealand has been estimated about $27 to $55 million but the economic benefits are estimated at about $180 million minimum and around 500 jobs by supporters of hosting the telescope.

The intellectual and innovative spin offs are also expected to be huge, with Minister for Economic Development David Carter saying hosting SKA would put the two countries at the forefront of international science.

“The SKA has great potential for innovative and high-tech companies and can inspire a new generation of scientists like the renowned Ernest Rutherford.”

The Australasian submission was the result of a major collaborative effort between 447 agencies in the two countries, the Ministry said.

Transtasman competition was nowhere to be seen with Australia and New Zealand SKA project director Dr Brian Boyd impressed by the collaborative approach of the agencies.

“As ever I am both amazed and unsurprised by the way in which so many Australian and New Zealand organisations have worked together seamlessly to deliver the response.”

Australian Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said there was a remote site based in Western Australia that had good radio quiet and astronomy infrastructure, and that the National Broadband Network would provide the required fibre-optic links for data transferral and processing.

The final decision on the host site is expected in early 2012, with SKA expected to be operating in 2020, the ministry said.

Alex Walls
Fri, 16 Sep 2011
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Australasian proposal to host most powerful radio telescope submitted