SKA site relocates

Tuesday, 12 June, 2007

The University of Western Australia has welcomed an announcement by Premier Alan Carpenter on the relocation of the site for the proposed $2 billion square kilometre array (SKA) radio astronomy project.

UWA's leading radio astronomy researchers and Premier's Research Fellows Peter Quinn and Lister Staveley-Smith said the government initiative would enhance the state's chances of winning the international project.

Premier Carpenter said the site would move 90 km west from Mileura Station to the adjacent Boolardy Station after concerns were raised about mining activities in the vicinity of the original site affecting radio quietness essential to the project's success.

WA is one of two sites in the world short-listed by international astronomers for the project.

Professor Quinn said the SKA will have an operational lifetime of more than 50 years and will be the world's leading radio astronomy facility for most of the 21st century.

"With an annual operational budget of $100 million, the SKA will bring significant industrial development, research, education and employment opportunities to WA. There is no doubt that the significant commitment of the state government expressed in the Premier's announcement today will position WA as a highly rated contender for the SKA project, which is attracting increased international interest," Quinn said.

"The SKA telescope will give us insights into the formation and evolution of the first galaxies; it will allow us to use pulsars to test Einstein's theory of general relativity in extreme cases, such as the edge of black holes; to better understand magnetic fields, their origin and evolution; and to gain insights into the formation of planets and life in the universe," Staveley-Smith said.

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