back to article South Africa and Australia to share SKA

SKA antennas close-up - artist's impression The square kilometre array (SKA) will be shared between Australia and South Africa. The colossal radio telescope was the subject of bids from both nations, each of which hoped to secure the rights to host hundreds of radio telescopes with a combined surface area of one square …


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  1. Robert Heffernan


    Great result for all parties involved, and the extra distance between receiving stations will just make it better.

    I heard a Podcast outlining the bandwidth requirements of the SKA. It will be sending Exabytes of data each day and each telescope needs to be correlated with each other in real time.

    I want to know who will be laying that much submarine data cable between Australia and Africa? Off-the-shelf cable isn't going to cut the bandwidth requirements (petabits per second).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bandwidth!

      The SA and Oz telescopes aren't directly linked, instead each local set is correlated with a local clock and then compared off line later. The data rates are only really scary at the high frequency end and there isn't much point in doing baselines that long at those frequencies (although resolution increases with baseline the filed of view and sensitivity drop)

      Combining telescopes on different continents (VLBI) has been done for decades at lower frequencies - one of the interesting bits is that you need to know the position of the dishes relative to each other and the centre of the Earth accuratley - so it's the best way of measuring small changes in the Earth's crust.

  2. TReko

    No word on real numbers: how much money does RSA get and how much Aus/NZ?

    Looking through the brief, RSA won, Aus just got a consolation prize.

  3. Notas Badoff

    Shhh, hear something?

    "... the long term sustainability of a radio quiet zone,..."

    Umm, isn't there a rather lot more space nobody can otherwise use in the continent of Australia, versus the country of S.Africa?

    Or is this a comment on the likelihood that S.Africa economy will be 'booming' any century now?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Shhh, hear something?

      S Africa is still pretty big and the site is on a desert mountain miles from anywhere.

    2. P Saunders

      Re: Shhh, hear something?

      plus SA has made a radio exclusion zone around the SKA area into law. the karoo is a whole lot of big where that thing is being built.

  4. stuartnz
    Thumb Up

    Shocking victory for common sense

    This really is a great day for science, I think. To decide to merge the 2 competing bids for a larger project was remarkably sensible. Obviously, Aus & NZ will be disappointed not to haver a bigger slice of the pie, but I don't see any losers here. What I do see is a chance for scientific research to be an ever bigger winner than the original plan proposed AND a nice boost to the networking infrastructure of all 3 parties. This Kiwi supports anything which helps get better connectivity to these Shaky Isles.

    1. Poor Coco
      Thumb Up

      Re: Shocking victory for common sense

      As an expat Kiwi, I too am chuffed!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really should have skipped Australia...

    Since Australia are planning on scrapping our NBN does it really make much sense to build something as technologically advanced as the SKA out here? Even though the SKA wont necessarily be utilising the NBN quite frankly I'd still be much happier if it was awarded totally to NZ or SA instead of our backwards country. At least one of them knows the meaning of the word progress.

  6. Charybdis

    West Australia is the far better site for this project, especially for the heavily weighted technical and politically stable requirements, but quite simply, the Oz public and Govt didn't do enough campaigning to secure this job. In the end, we were lucky to get a share of it.....

    Will good things come of it? Sure.

    But nobody can tell me that the decision to share it was due to anything more than strong South African campaigning coupled with Australian complacency....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Far better site?

      The SKA technical committee disagreed with you. Their evaluation narrowly favoured the RSA (with Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar etc) site.

      I rather get the impression that this was a good result for Oz, and that - yet again - it was Aussie spin that saved the day against a stronger team.

  7. g.marconi

    One square kilometre

    Why all the fuss about so much space ? One square kilometre is only about 32metres by 32meters

    which would easily fit on a cricket ground.

    1. LarsG

      Re: One square kilometre

      A square km is 1000m x 1000m not 32m x 32m and as for being as big as a cricket pitch, I'd love to see someone hit a six!

      1. Neoc

        Re: One square kilometre

        My understanding -> a square kilometer is an area whose surface adds up to 1,000 m^2 (e.g. 100 m x 10 m). A Kilometer square (km^2) is an area 1 km x 1 km (or 1,000,000 m^2).

        Anybody else?

        1. amanfromearth

          Re: One square kilometre

          As it's splurged over a number of locations in the southern hemisphere, thousands of km apart, are they going to stop calling it the square km array?

          1. tony2heads

            Re: One square kilometre

            It refers to the total collecting area; we need the spread to get angular resolution as it is an interferometer


  8. Drewc Gold badge

    ten comments all downvoted (at time of writing)

    By one person, it seems. What a peculiar thing to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ten comments all downvoted (at time of writing)

      Here's a Facebook link:

      Hope that helps.

    2. Adam T

      Re: ten comments all downvoted (at time of writing)

      I was wondering about the Downbotes myself. It's hardly as if there's anything contentious to all of this - two sides came out winners and science should do well. Could it be someone doesn't like science?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No mention of Madness, Bad Manners, The Specials, etc. yet?

    1. tony2heads

      Re: Madness

      But the announcement happened on Africa Day

      (Night Boat to Cairo)

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