London — The British based organisation the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has decided to build the world's largest ever telescope in southern Africa and Australasia, with Mozambique hosting part of the telescope at the Science and Technology Park in Maluana, Maputo province.
The telescope is to be constructed using an array of three thousand receivers spread over thousands of kilometres, picking up electromagnetic radiation through 15 metre wide dishes.
The telescope will be fifty times more sensitive than the most powerful telescope in existence today. It will be able to interpret the data it receives ten thousand times faster than any previous telescope. This will require processing power equal to several million computers to sift through the same amount of data each day as two days' worth of global internet traffic.
The cost of the project is likely to be more than the budgeted 1.5 billion euros because SKA failed to decide whether to locate the telescope in southern Africa or Australasia. Instead, it decided to split the project between the two lead partners.
However, it was decided South Africa will lead two thirds of the project, which will be centred in the Karoo and extend out into Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma, said of the success in winning the trust of SKA, "Africa is indeed rising. South Africa is confident that the country will deliver on the expectations of the continent and world".
South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, commented, "this is a momentous day for South Africa and the continent and will give all of us the possibility to answer fundamental questions in physics, astronomy and cosmology".
The SKA telescope will look at fundamental things that we do not understand about the universe, including what happened moments after the big bang, why the universe is expanding at an accelerating speed, the role of magnetism and nature of gravity.
The project is due to be completed in 2024.