As­tron­omy

The Dominion Post - - News -

Sci­en­tists re­main at log­ger­heads over whether the Govern­ment is mak­ing the right call down­grad­ing New Zealand’s in­volve­ment in a €1.8 bil­lion (NZ$3b) ra­dio tele­scope that could look back bil­lions of years to the ori­gin of the first stars. A spokesman for Sci­ence Min­is­ter Me­gan Woods said the Govern­ment de­cided last year that New Zealand should not re­main a full mem­ber of the Square Kilo­me­tre Ar­ray (SKA) tele­scope project be­cause of the ‘‘level of pub­lic in­vest­ment re­quired’’. But An­drew En­sor, di­rec­tor of the High Per­for­mance Com­put­ing Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory at Auck­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, is still hope­ful of a re­think. The SKA will com­prise thou­sands of ra­dio dishes in South Africa and Aus­tralia that to­gether are be­ing billed as the most sen­si­tive ra­dio tele­scope in the world. It has been bankrolled by 11 coun­tries in­clud­ing Bri­tain, China, Canada, Aus­tralia and New Zealand – which has, so far, con­trib­uted about $5 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to En­sor. But New Zealand’s con­tri­bu­tions would need to in­crease to $23m over 10 years dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase if it re­mained a full mem­ber.

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