World′s biggest telescope to be built over two continents | News | DW | 25.05.2012
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World's biggest telescope to be built over two continents

The world's biggest telescope is to be located In three countries in the southern hemisphere. The Square Kilometre Array is to be 50 times more sensitive than any existing telescope.

An organization planning to build the world's biggest and most sensitive telescope has decided to spread the project across South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

"We have decided on a dual-site approach," John Womersley, the chairman of Square Kilometre Array, said following a meeting of the consortium's board at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

"We will be installing equipment in both Australia and South Africa and together they will form part of a global observatory," he added.

The decision in favor of the “dual site solution” came as something of a surprise as the board had been expected to select only one of the two competing bids, from South Africa on the one side and the joint effort from Australia and New Zealand on the other. It also means the estimated $2-billion (1.59-billion-euro) cost of the project, which is being funded by more than 70 organizations in 20 different countries, will likely rise significantly.

SKA to be 50 times stronger than any existing telescope

The project, which is expected to take 12 years to complete is to be made up of 3,000 15-meter (49-foot) wide dishes together with many more antennae, giving it a total receiver surface area of one square kilometer.

Scientists hope the Square Kilometre Array, which is to be 50 times more sensitive than any existing telescope, will help shed light on the origins of the universe as well as whether there is life beyond the planet earth.

pfd/sej (AFP, AP, Reuters)