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    1 June, 2012
Further details emerge over Mozambique's role in SKA telescope
 
By John Hughes

London, 1 June (AIM) – Mozambique is to host two sites for the world’s largest and most powerful telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The British based organisation SKA on Monday decided to build the world’s largest ever telescope in southern Africa and Australasia, with Mozambique hosting part of the telescope at the Science and Technology Park in Maluana, Maputo province.

South Africa will lead most of the project, which will be centred in the Karoo and extend out into Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

The telescope is to be constructed using an array of three thousand receivers spread over thousands of kilometres, picking up electromagnetic radiation and cosmic rays emitted by extremely distant celestial objects (such as stars and galaxies) through 15 metre wide dishes.

Two of the sites will be based in Mozambique, each with 24 dishes maintained by about ten local technicians.

Although not yet directly involved in the project, Mozambique’s largest university, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), is closely linked to the SKA South Africa project. The radio telescope will boost postgraduate research and teaching programmes in radio astronomy at UEM and Mozambique's other universities.

The telescope will be fifty times more sensitive than the most powerful telescope in existence today. It will be able to interpret the data it receives ten thousand times faster than any previous telescope. This will require processing power equal to several million computers to sift through the same amount of data each day as two days’ worth of global internet traffic.

The cost of the project is likely to be more than the budgeted 1.5 billion euros because SKA failed to decide whether to locate the telescope in southern Africa or Australasia. Instead, it decided to split the project between the two lead partners.

The SKA telescope will look at fundamental questions that we have not yet answered about the universe, including what happened moments after the big bang, why the universe is expanding at an accelerating speed, the role of magnetism and the nature of gravity.

The project is due to be completed in 2024.
(AIM)
 
 
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