Wednesday, 11 May 2011 00:12

Federal budget support for Square Kilometre Array

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In a final show-down with South Africa, Australia's bid for the SKA continues to receive Federal Government support via this evening's budget.

With sites ranging from the proposed primary host in Northern Cape Province to outstations in Ghana and Kenya, the South African proposal is an exceptionally strong competitor to Australia's Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project with a primary site inland from Geraldton in Western Australia and outstations as far away as New Zealand.

The two sites are the final combatants in a world-wide search for the best site for what will become the premier Earth-based radio-astronomy facility.

Distilling down the two proposals, South Africa offers a very radio-quiet site and the promise of improved science in a number of developing nations; alternately, Australia's proposal brings strong existing technology, an acknowledged easy-to-business-with economy and a much larger receiver base-line.

Based upon many thousands of radio telescopes (think: communications satellite dishes), the SKA offers the most detailed look at radio-wave astronomy the world has ever seen.  The extra bonus of having out-stations many thousands of kilometres away serves to add to the resolution of the overall system.

Announcement of the winning bid will occur next year, but in the interim, tonight's Federal budget continues support for the Australian submission, with the Federal Government spending $40.2 million to promote the application, develop the proposal and help negotiations.  Beyond that, Science Minister Kim Carr notes that $34 million will be provided for pre-construction work should the bid be successful.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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