Following a meeting in Amsterdam on Friday night (25 May 2012) the International SKA Organisation announced that the hosting rights for the SKA will be shared between Australia – New Zealand and southern Africa.
This was a wonderful result for Australian and New Zealand science and for the SKA project as a whole. It means that Australia will host both the low frequency component of the SKA – which will image the birth of the first stars in the universe - and a world leading survey facility based on CSIRO’s revolutionary Phased Array Feed technology. Both of these components of the telescope are right at the cutting-edge of radio astronomy technology and data management and will attract some of the best technological brains in the world to Australia.
The result will confirm Australia’s place at the forefront of radio astronomy and will bring jobs and investment in the manufacturing, IT, science and operations sectors. The ground-breaking nature of the project will inevitably excite the interest of young Australians to pursue careers in science and engineering.
This was an equitable split of the telescope and although all the details of the implementation remain to be finalised, it could well see global investment in Australia and New Zealand-based infrastructure that amounts to over $750 million.
The big challenge now is to make the world's largest telescope a reality in both countries and we look forward to working collaboratively with our South African colleagues over the coming years. It’s clear to me that there is really only one winner from the dual site outcome - and that is the project itself.
For regular project updates, follow me on twitter - www.twitter.com/BrianBoyleSKA