Telescope magnifies South African science

By Ithuteng Mashabela

South African scientists are in the running for a bid to host the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s biggest radio telescope to date. The telescope is set to mark a breakthrough in astronomy as it will allow astronomers to track the early evolution of our galaxy. South Africa was chosen over economic giants such as the USA and China, and was short listed to compete against Australia.

Construction of the SKA, which will cost approximately $1,6 billion, is estimated to begin in 2011, with the hope that the giant, global instrument will be fully functional by 2020.

Among the panel of South African scientists in the bid is Professor Justin Jonas, a radio astronomer based at Rhodes University. When commenting on the tough competition that Australia poses to South Africa, Jonas said, “The southern hemisphere is a sure winner.”



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