Decision on SKA expected today

2225433 REUTERS

Michelle Jones

THE wait is over. A decision on where the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is to be located is expected to be announced today.

Members of the SKA Organisation are meeting at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands this morning to discuss the pros and cons of SA versus Australia as host of the large telescope.

While there has been no official confirmation about the outcome of the meeting, SA is so confident that a decision will be made today that the government and the SA SKA Project Office have scheduled a media briefing.

The decision had been delayed so a small scientific working group could be set up to investigate site options.

This led to speculation that SA and Australia may share hosting duties of the R15 billion telescope. SA had previously been tipped as the preferred location.

Jo Bowler, SKA Organisation spokeswoman, said members were expected to discuss the findings of the working group today.

“If the members feel they have sufficient information, they may decide to take a vote and select a site at that meeting.

“We will not know in advance whether a decision will be made.”

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has repeatedly said that while she would not interfere in the decision, she wanted one no later than June.

Both SA and Australia have agreed they are not in favour of co-hosting the SKA.

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