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South Africa, Australia to provide home to world’s largest telescope

By Kate Thomas –

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa and Australia will share the location for the world’s largest and most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array scientific consortium said on Friday.

Construction of the telescope is scheduled to begin in 2016 and is expected to take eight years. The mammoth telescope, which will be comprised of scattered antennae, is expected to be used by scientists to widen global understanding of distant galaxies.

In South Africa, it will consist of about 3,000 antennae and will be constructed in South Africa’s Karoo region, with stations throughout the country and in Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar and Zambia, among others.

SKA board chairperson John Womersley said the project would be based on a “dual-site approach”, meaning that a similar set-up will be established in Australia and New Zealand. South Africa and Australia were the finalists for the bid.

Earlier this week, South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said winning the bid for the telescope would be like winning the “science world cup,” local media said.

“We believe we have an excellent site at which exciting science will be done. We in Africa are ready to host the SKA,” said Pandor.

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