News FocusRadio Astronomy

Partners Prepare to Pick a Site For World's Biggest Telescope

Science  30 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6076, pp. 1564-1565
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6076.1564

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Summary

Astronomers in South Africa or Australia and New Zealand will soon be celebrating winning the right to host the Square Kilometre Array, an instrument that will span a continent and comprise about 3000 radio-telescope dishes. The winning bidder for this €1.5 billion project, which could be announced as soon as next week at a 3 April meeting in Amsterdam, will receive a huge boost to its high-tech industry and a calling card for attracting top academic talent to its shores. Not surprisingly, the two finalists have been pressing the flesh and talking up their bids to representatives of the five countries that have voting authority. Astronomers hope that the last lap in the race doesn't descend into a drawn-out political scramble that damages and delays their long-sought telescope. Indeed, those who spoke with Science didn't have strong views about which of the two candidate sites should be chosen.