SKA an R18bn boost to South African economy

SKA an R18bn boost to economy: Hanekom

The first phase of the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope in the Karoo could result in an inflow of R18bn into South Africa, says science & technology minister Derek Hanekom.

“Preliminary estimates for the operations cost put the potential net foreign inflow into South Africa — for SKA phase one only — at close to R18bn over the lifetime of the project, ” he said in a written reply to a parliamentary question. The construction on phase one of the SKA project is set to start in 2016. The funding model to build the world’s biggest and most sensitive radio telescope was still being negotiated at an international level and the construction budget for SKA phase two has yet to be determined.

The project is managed by the international SKA Organisation, comprised of: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the UK. An array of dish receptors will extend into eight African countries from a central core region near Carnarvon where a further array of mid-frequency aperture arrays will also be built. The eight African partners are Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia while a smaller array of dish receptors and an array of low frequency aperture arrays will be located in western Australia.

Setting the Dark On Fire: Beautiful View of Clouds of Cosmic Dust in the Region of Orion

Dense clouds of gas and dust in the depths of space are recognized as the birthplace of new stars.  At the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, which humans can see, the dust clouds are dark and effectively obscure the background stars. William Herschel, help observing such a cloud in Scorpius remarked, “Hier ist wahrhaftig ein loch im Himmel!”

To truly come to grips with the processes involved in star formation, a method is required that will enable astronomers to see into and beyond these clouds.  The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes, is the largest single-dish submillimetre-wavelength telescope operating in the southern hemisphere, and is exactly what the doctor or at least the astronomers ordered, for studying the birthplace of stars..

The subject of this investigation is the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex situated 1500 light-years away from Earth, which makes it the closest region of massive star formation to Earth.  The new image in the article can be compared to an older image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope at  (http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo0010a/). The region in this image is located about two degrees south of Messier 42, the well-known Orion Nebula.

To view the new image and read the rest of the article click here to go to the specific ScienceDaily.page.