News

South Africa Vies to Host Super Telescope

Emilie Iob visited the part of South Africa where the telescope could be based

Discussions get underway in Amsterdam Tuesday to decide who should host the world’s most powerful radio telescope - South Africa or Australia.

An artist's impression of South Africa's Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT) which will be amongst the largest and most powerful telescopes in the world, April 3, 2012
An artist's impression of South Africa's Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT) which will be amongst the largest and most powerful telescopes in the world, April 3, 2012

The instrument will be 50 times more sensitive than today's most powerful radio telescope, and is expected to answer key questions on the origins of the universe. The stakes are high for both countries in competition, and South Africa has already invested massively to win the bid.

It is in the middle of the Karoo - an arid, windblown no-man's-land area - that the Square Kilometer Array project, also known as SKA, is going to be settled if South Africa wins the bid.

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom is confident. "We have ideal conditions for it," he said.

"We have good astronomers in our country; we have the technical expertise; and we have the ideal climatic and environmental conditions," Hanekom added. "We have eight partner countries in the African continent. For some, they would view that as an opportunity to offer African countries an opportunity to reach a new dimension in scientific endeavor."

Facing stiff competition from Australia, however, South Africa took the chance to display its know-how in advance.

In the Karoo, seven satellite dishes have already been built, and 57 more are will be constructed next year. They represent a project called MeerKAT - which is being billed as the "little brother" of the SKA. It will be the 2nd largest radio telescope in the southern hemisphere after SKA.

The project has cost $300 million so far. And according to project SKA South Africa associate director, Justin Jonas, this project is already a success, even before its completion.

"The MeerKAT itself has attracted enormous interest internationally and in SA [South Africa] itself," said Jonas. "We've already put out proposals for the use of MeerKAT.  So in fact, the first five years of the MeerKAT time is already taken up by a massive international team."

It is the home stretch for the two countries that want to host the $2 billion SKA radio telescope. The SKA board of directors is expected to make its selection public in the next few weeks.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs