The Square Kilometre Array‘s board chairman announced at a press conference in Amsterdam today that South Africa and Australia would be sharing the location of the SKA radio telescope.
A dual site setup will be implemented for the world’s most powerful radio telescope, with the majority of new dishes being added to the existing MeerKAT facility in the Karoo as part of Phase One of the project. Other SKA dishes will also be added to Australia’s ASKAP facility. South Africa and Australia were previously competing for the $2 billion contract for the Square Kilometre Array.
Interim director general of the SKA Organisation Dr Michiel van Haarlem said “This hugely important step for the project allows us to progress the design and prepare for the construction phase of the telescope. The SKA will transform our view of the Universe; with it we will see back to the moments after the Big Bang and discover previously unexplored parts of the cosmos.”
South Africa will be joining Australia and several other African countries in the endeavour. Construction is expected to start in 2016 and the SKA should be completed by 2024, at which time it will stretch from Australia and New Zealand across the African continent as far as Ghana.