Monday, 28 May 2012

A Two Tone Decision on Ska

There was exciting news in the world of astronomy last week. After 9 years of deliberation, a decision had finally been made on where to site the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world's most powerful radio telescope.

As you may know, it was a toss up between South Africa and Australia. And the winner is...both! Yes,the SKA has come down squarely on the fence in a decision that some may see as a classic Brussels-style fudge. But not us.

We agree with  John 'Bob Hoskins' Womersley, STFC Chief and Chairman of the SKA Board. At a conference in the duty free area of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Friday Bob said that they had decided on a 'dual site approach'. 'The decision was science-motivated,' said Bob, as he stocked up on cut price cigarettes. 'It strengthens the project in the long run. Everyone is in favour of it. SA, Australia, and the SKA Organisation.'

But how will this work? In a statement SKA spelled it out. 'The majority of SKA dishes in Phase 1 will be built in South Africa, combined with MeerKAT. Further SKA dishes will be added to the ASKAP array in Australia. All the dishes and the mid frequency aperture arrays for Phase II of the SKA will be built in Southern Africa while the low frequency aperture array antennas for Phase I and II will be built in Australia /New Zealand.'

All clear? Dishes from South Africa (heading a consortium of eight other countries), antennas from Australia and New Zealand, and six time zones separating them. What could possibly go wrong? Yes, we at Fundermentals Towers fully agree that science is best done at a distance. And preferably on different continents.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely not my field so I've nothing to comment on the substance of the article, but I did want to say nice title! Very clever!