August 21, 2009

New Zealand, Australia Announce Joint Telescope Bid

New Zealand and Australia have joined each other in a bid for a massive radio telescope.

Both countries announced a bid of 2.5 billion dollars (2.1 billion US) for the international Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope.

"Signing the arrangement sends a strong signal to the international community that both countries are committed to supporting SKA-related industry opportunities and promoting the relevant capabilities of Australian and New Zealand industry," New Zealand's Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee told the Australian Broadcasting Company.

The neighboring countries hope their bid will exceed that of rival bidder South Africa in hopes of being able to head the project that will rely on a network of 4,000 radio antennas intended to look for earth-like planets and traces of intelligent life.

The SKA network would allow for higher resolution and 10,000 times more powerful imaging.

"New Zealand is crucial to building the global collaboration required for the SKA to reach its full potential," said Senator Kim Carr, Australia's Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

"If our bid is successful, the SKA will not only significantly increase Australia's and New Zealand's scientific capabilities; it will result in economic benefits and spinoffs in a number of areas, including supercomputing, data transmission, renewable energy, construction and manufacturing," Carr added.

Australia's bid has already topped that of the United States, Argentina and China, according to AFP.


Image Caption: Artist's Impression of the Offset Gregorian dish antennas. SPDO/XILOSTUDIOS


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