JOHANNESBURG, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the world's largest telescope, would "bring lots of opportunities" to South Africa, including job creations, project director Bernie Fanaroff said here on Tuesday.
"The SKA, if used properly, will create opportunities for us," Fanaroff said at a breakfast briefing co-hosted by The New Age newspaper and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Fanaroff said the project was"very exciting"and would open a world of possibilities, particularly for the youth.
The SKA Organization announced in May last year that the project, which is to be constructed as the world's biggest and most sensitive radio telescope, will be shared by South Africa and Australia/New Zealand.
The two biggest components of the SKA will be built in Africa, while one will be built in Australia. About 70 percent of the facility will be built in Africa.
Construction of Phase I of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The majority of SKA dishes in Phase I will be built in South Africa, and further dishes will be added to some existing facilities in Australia.
Fanaroff said the partner countries will share the cost of building the SKA, which is expected to be in the region of 20 billion rand (about 2.2 billion U.S. dollars).
South Africa has established an outstanding site for SKA in the arid Karoo area in the country's Northern Cape Province. Eight other African nations are partnering with South Africa in the project.
The telescope is actually a combination of thousands of dishes and antennas, whose total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometer, giving 50 times the sensitivity and 10,000 times the survey speed of the best current-day telescopes.
It will address unanswered fundamental questions about our universe, including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond the earth.
The SKA was expected to provide a multi-billion rand boost to the South African economy and could become a powerful driver of scientific, socioeconomic and human capital development throughout the continent of Africa, S. African authorities said.