28 Sep 2008

Radio telescope about to begin operation

3:51 pm on 28 September 2008

Astronomers hope a new radio telescope in Warkworth will boost New Zealand's chances of being involved in an international science project.

The telescope is due to begin operating in 10 days.

Auckland University of Technology astronomy professor Sergei Gulyaev says the dish will be an important addition to the world's radio telescope networks.

He says it will help measure everything from movements in the earth's crust, to changing sea levels and the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere.

Australia is bidding against seven countries in Southern Africa for the right to host a square kilometre array - a giant radio telescope made up of thousands of dishes that will be at least 50 times more sensitive than any current radio telescope.

The Government has already decided to support and campaign for Australia's bid.

But Minister of Research Science and Technology Pete Hodgson says the financial investment is still up for discussion.

New Zealand will have to invest about $7 million in four radio telescopes to be a starter.

A final decision on the location will be made in 2011 or 2012.

More can also be heard on Insight on Sunday.