The selection of the best site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which was between South Africa and a joint Australian/New Zealand bid, surprised most people. But it makes real sense to utilize the preliminary facilities that both nations have started to contribute.
In an earlier article on RelativeCosmos.com I suggested Australia would be best but in light of the split decision, it is a welcome selection!
Australia will launch phase 1 of the plan and get started sooner and South Africa will come in a little later with phase 2. It really is a workable solution and it is coup for both countriesâ€™ astronomy communities â€“ many details are yet to be finalised but itâ€™s one of those great times where a turning point makes for great history.
To quote Nature, â€œBut splitting the site does have potential benefits. For one thing, the redundancy created by international collaboration can come in handy. The ISS, for example, continues to be serviced by a slew of vehicles from its different partners, even though the US space shuttle no longer flies there. There is also a perverse financial advantage â€” multiple partners are less likely to cancel an over-budget project than is a single government. But the greatest benefit is human: a more complex project draws in more people from more places and gives them an opportunity to participate.â€
Read more on:Â Nature Â 485, 548 (31 May 2012) doi:10.1038/485548a