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Australia Space Science News

South Africa Wins Science Panel's Backing To Host SKA Telescope 117

ananyo writes "A scientific panel has narrowly recommended South Africa over Australia as the best site for the proposed Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an enormous US$2.1-billion radio telescope. While the project's member states have yet to make a final decision on where the telescope will go, the odds are now that the African bid will ultimately win out against the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand to host the project. The SKA radio telescope will be made up of some a 3,000 dishes, each 15 metres in diameter. The project will try to answer big questions about the early Universe: how the first elements heavier than helium formed, for example, and how the first galaxies coalesced. The telescope is so sensitive that it could even pick up television signals from distant worlds — something that might aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."
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South Africa Wins Science Panel's Backing To Host SKA Telescope

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  • by Zaldarr ( 2469168 ) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:45AM (#39309831) Homepage
    that it's not over yet.
  • Re:Digital signal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @03:34AM (#39309989)

    As long as it's above the noise floor, it would be recognizable. Not necessarily as TV, but as some sort of intentionally created signal. I doubt we'd be able to watch it though.

    The real home run, though the odds are miniscule, would be if the timing works out that we pick up extraterrestrial signals right around the time that some other civilization is learning the basics of frequency modulated radio, so that they're just mapping frequencies of sound directly to frequencies of light. That would actually allow us to hear alien speech, which would obviously be amazing.

    Of course, that assumes that they use verbal communication, and that their technology progresses similar to ours, and that the window of time that they used this technology (a couple centuries at most if they're similar to us) just so happens to fall in the time that we're listening, instead of millions of years before or after. So I'm not holding my breath, but it sure would be cool.

  • Good to hear this. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shag ( 3737 ) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @04:37AM (#39310221)

    The continent of Africa, as a whole, is woefully underdeveloped for astronomy (like it is for lots of other things). Yes, South Africa has some decent stuff, like SALT, based on the Hobby-Eberley scope in Texas, which is quite large. And the Canaries have plenty of observatories near Africa, but they're under Spanish control. A SKA would probably include some outlying dishes one or even two countries removed from South Africa, which would help make science more visible in those countries as well. /Biased since I work in astronomy and am married to an African. ;)

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