Bad News For The Aussie SKA Bid
Australia set to lose bid for massive space telescope.
Folks…this is not good news. It appears my fears stated 3 weeks ago, based on personal information I received, indicated that the advisory panel for the SKA project favoured, (quote) “developing countries”…ie/ South Africa. Well, my fears this morning have been realised.. sadly, although not set in concrete, I believe we’ve lost it.. read this newspaper report-
Australia‘s chances to host the world’s largest space telescope have been dealt a crippling blow after a key scientific panel recommended the $2.5 billion project be awarded to a rival consortium led by South Africa.
The Square Kilometre Array is to be aimed at the deep reaches of the universe and expected to generate immense amounts of data – enough to fill 15 million large iPods every day – costing around $25 billion over 50 years to maintain.
A group of 20 countries will share the financial burden and the results of what is dubbed ”the experiment of the century”. The array, which detects radio waves instead of light, will allow scientists to explore the black holes and dark matter that makes up most of the universe, and could even be used in the search for alien intelligence.
But Australia, in a joint bid with New Zealand, has failed to convince an expert panel it offers a superior location for the project with less radio interference for the thousands of separate dishes and antennas that will comprise the array.
The panel of experts known as the SKA Site Advisory Committee made a confidential report last month judging the South African-led bid was stronger.
This is not the final decision – that now rests with a vote of four countries represented on the board of directors for the project and is expected on April 4. China, Italy, Britain and Holland will vote on the final location.
But the expert report is seen as a major setback to Australia’s hopes of eventually winning the project.
The option to spread the array across eight nations in southern Africa was judged the better bid in part due to lower costs to power the telescope and transfer the massive amounts of data.
When complete the array is estimated to offer 10,000 times the discovery power the biggest radio telescopes presently and able to pick up the equivalent of a television signal on a planet light years away.
Australia has proposed locating the bulk of the array in Murchison Shire – a vast outback area in Western Australia north east of Geralton with no mobile phone towers or other human activity to interfere with it.
Around 3000 antenna dishes with a total surface area of one square kilometre make up the array, with antennas spread along a 5000-kilometre spiral stretching to the tip of New Zealand’s South Island.
Science and Research Minister Chris Evans – who lead the team to China and Italy last month to press the case for Australia’s bid – declined to directly address questions on the panel’s recommendation, but said, ”We believe we have a superior site in terms of the scientific, social and political measures being considered.” Construction of the array is set to begin in 2016. Source: The Canberra Times.
- Australia on the outer for largest space telescope (theage.com.au)
- Aussie’s SKA Plus/Download A Billion Terabytes (davidreneke.com)
- WA sets its sights on playing host to historic Pathfinder (theage.com.au)
STOP PRESS: In order to keep balance and a proper perspective AND to again restate my decision to run this story, please see the latest report from Canberra.
Aid Mindset Main Impediment To SKA
From John Ross The Australian March 15, 2012 12:00AM
Sympathy for Africa, and not distance from Europe and North America, is the key impediment to a successful Australian bid for the Square Kilometre Array, according to Science Minister Chris Evans. Senator Evans said astronomers around the world thought the Murchison region of Western Australia, where Australia’s SKA bid is centred, was a pretty good place to work.