New Telescope to be in South Africa, Australia
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Australia and South Africa will share hosting of a giant radio telescope made up of thousands of separate dishes and intended to help scientists figure out the make-up of the universe, the international consortium overseeing the project announced Friday.
South Africa led an African consortium that included Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia, and telescopes will be erected in all its partners. In South Africa, dishes will be added to a remote site in the arid Karoo desert where a smaller radio telescope project already is under way.
South Africa and Australia, which partnered with New Zealand in bidding for the project, had competed fiercely. South Africa claimed victory Friday, saying it got two of the projects three major components.
"We may feel slightly disappointed that we didn’t get the whole thing. But I think one should emphasize that we did get most of it," said Justin Jonas, the chief South African scientist on the project. "Two-thirds of the biggest instrument in the world is still the biggest instrument in the world."
South Africa’s science minister Naledi Pandor and scientists who had prepared the country’s bid celebrated with an Africa-shaped cake at a news conference in South Africa’s capital.
"This marks a real turning point in Africa, where we are becoming a destination for science and engineering, and not just a place where there are resources and tourism opportunities," Jonas added.
Australia also welcomed the split decision.