R2-billion boost for SKA from Britain

12 March 2014

In announcing funding of £100-million (€120-million, almost R1.8-billion) for Phase 1 of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, the UK has boosted construction by almost 18.5% of the €650-million required to build the first phase of the SKA.

“It’s fantastic news for the SKA,” added SKA board chairperson and UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) CEO Professor John Womersley. “This represents a significant investment on behalf of the UK and along with our other contributions aims to confirm the UK’s leading role in key aspects of the project.”

In addition, the STFC confirmed that it is contributing £19-million to the SKA over the next four years, broken down into £11-million for big data research and development and £8-million (£2-million a year) on the continuing core programme. Thus, the total funding for the SKA announced by the UK on Tuesday came to £119-million (more than R2.1-billion).

South Africa has welcomed Britain’s decision to provide the £100-million for the construction of Phase 1 of the international SKA radio telescope, which will be co-hosted by South Africa and Australia. The SKA will be one of the biggest scientific instruments ever constructed.

The first MeerKAT antenna is scheduled to be inaugurated on March 27 and the entire 64-dish array should be finished in 2016/2017.

Image caption: The head office of the SKA Organisation at Jodrell Bank, with the 76-m-diameter Lovell radio telescope. Photo: SKA Organisation

By: Keith Campbell
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