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South Africa recommended for extraterrestrial research

March 12, 2012 • Top Stories

The rivalry between South Africa and Australia is reaching beyond the sportsfield into the extraterrestial these days. A scientific panel has selected South Africa over Australia as the best site for the proposed Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday.

Square Kilometre Array proposed drawings. (image: astronomynow.com)

The SKA’s Site Advisory Committee will oversee the enormous radio telescope, but it remains unclear where the radio telescope will go. The SKA radio telescopes costs around $2.1-billion, consisting of 3000 dishes.

The telescope will help scientists address questions surrounding the early universe. The telescope is reportedly so sensitive that it might pick up television signals from distant planets, which could uncover extraterrestrial intelligence.

The bidding war started in 2006, but since construction costs are lower and South Africa is at a higher altitude they came out tops for the panel.

SKA board members are set to meet next Monday in Manchester, United Kingdom. The meeting will take the aforementioned scientific panel’s thumbs up to South Africa into account. However, both sides will have the chance to present any contestations. These will be added to the panel’s recommendations, before the final announcement is made.

Nico Gous



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3 Responses to South Africa recommended for extraterrestrial research

  1. Ron Muller says:

    "television signals from distant planets" reads dumb, the assumption being "they" have TV. "television signals from distant planets if they had televisions" reads just as dumb, but would be more accurate. Just pointing it out…

  2. Joe Johanemn says:

    The likeliehood of finding EM radiation (like a TV or radio signal) from an Alien world is incredibly slim. Consider how short (in cosmological terms), Radio and TV have existed on Earth. Most of it has now become tight beam, and we don't have much leak. Most of it bounces off Satellites and then goes over cable. In a few more decades, we won't have anything that doesn't travel that way, and the few EM sources that don't (CB radios, as an example), won't have the strength to reach another planet.

    I'm a huge fan of SETI, but searching this way is almost guaranteed to fail.

    • Ray Matyjasik says:

      I really liked Michio Kaku's idea of searching in broadband spectrums. He figures aliens would have evolved enough to utilize multi-spectrum communication technology.

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