SA BOFFINS REARING TO GO NOW that it is known where the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be hosted the hard work can begin, say two lead members of the SKA SA project team. It was announced on Friday that SA, along with eight African partner countries, would host the project with Australia, paired with New Zealand, but that SA will claim the lion's share of the RIG-billion project. SA had been chosen as the preferred location, but members of the SKA Organisation wanted to benefit from the infrastructure already in place in Australia.
Bernie Fanaroff, SKA SA project director, said yesterday that while it would have been preferable not to share SKA, he was pleased with the decision. "We obviously would have liked to host SKA. But the result is that the two most important components of the SKA will be in Africa. "We're very happy to be the major player. We are very happy with the decision," said Fanaroff. The two major components are the 2 500 satellite dishes and the mid-frequency aperture arrays. Australia will host the hundreds of low-frequency antennae. "But now the hard work starts,"said Fanaroff. "In a sense this was the easy part. We've got to work out the engineering aspects, the detailed costings and the implementation process. 'All of that has to be worked out in detail. And of course the funding has to be worked out."
The money for the project was to come from many international funding agencies and countries around the world, Fanaroff said. Justin Jonas, from Rhodes University and SKA SAs associate director of science and engineering, said he had felt relieved when he heard the news. "It's been a long journey I've been involved with this project for 10 years and this is the fruition. It's very gratifying. We've put the work in and we've got the result." Jonas said the decision was in no way a compromise with Australia as the low frequency antenna array would in any case have had to be located at a separate site. "We hadn't been worried and were always quietly confident. This is a huge milestone we've passed.
"The project has been on hold while we've waited for a site decision. Now we can get down and do some work," said Jonas. The SKA Organisation said on Friday that the majority of the members had been in favour of a dual-site implementation model for SKA. Both countries' pre-cursor arrays, the ASKAP in Australia and MeerKAT in the Karoo, will be incorporated into Phase 1 of the SKA which will deliver more science and will maximise on investments already made. The organisation will now lead a detailed definition period, which will last about six months, to clarify the implementation. Its board will also negotiate with the hosting sites to develop mutually acceptable hosting arrangements, including the share of contributions between the organisation and each site, FANAROFF.
Source: The Mecury
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