A scientific panel has reportedly endorsed South Africa's bid to build the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, favouring it over an Australia-New Zealand proposal, but only by a hair.
The SKA Site Advisory Committee’s decision, reported by the Sydney Morning Herald comes ahead of the final decision on the project in April.
Australia and New Zealand’s joint proposal for the telescope has been in the works for some years and was through the Commonwealth Scientistic and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) last year.
The $2.1 billion telescope is pegged to begin operating in 2020 and have capabilities 10,000 times greater than any telescope currently used, enabling astronomers to examine the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.
According to reports from science journal Nature, the decision was a close call with “no enormous preference for one over the other”.
The journal reported that SKA members will meet in Manchester, UK on 19 March to discuss the panel’s recommendations and provide bidders with the opportunity to contest those recommendations.
The final decision is set to be announced in next month which. If Australia's bid is successful, 3000 dishes will extend from the Murchison region in the remote northwest of Western Australia.
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