The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is set to be one of the most ambitious science projects ever, and South Africa is one of the countries bidding to host it’s construction. I’ve said a lot on these pages about it, but most reports and pictures fail to convey the sheer scale of the thing. The attached video, from an academic presentation on the science which this project will do, should clear matters up nicely!
The SKA will be a gigantic radio telescope, with an effective diameter of 3000 kilometres. Thousands of twelve-metre dishes will be erected, which will be linked up so as to perform like one super-sized dish. The exact details of construction are still hazy, as much of the required technology is still being invented and tested (The necessary computers, for example, need to be significantly more powerful than even the best of today’s supercomputers), but the builders are scheduled to get to work in 2013, and they should be finished by 2022. The end result will be a radio telescope some fifty times more powerful than the most sensitive receivers existing today.