8 Jul 2011

Final bids made for telescope project

9:03 am on 8 July 2011

A trans-Tasman bid to host the world's most powerful radio telescope is now in its final stages.

Representatives from Australia and New Zealand have made their final public presentation about why the two countries should host the Square Kilometre Array telescope.

A hearing of the bids was held in Canada. South Africa is the only other contender.

''It's going to revolutionise our understanding of the universe,'' said Brian Boyle of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, who is leading the project.

''When we use the word transformational, we literally mean that because it transforms our thinking from our present paradigm to something that we can't even contemplate today.''

Construction of the telescope is a collaborative project between 17 countries. The estimated budget is 1.5 billion euros.

A decision on its location will be made in early 2012. Construction of the array is expected to take until about 2020.

The Square Kilometre Array will be the world's most powerful radio telescope. It could explain the origin of dark matter, which makes up about 90% of the universe and reveal how galaxies and stars were formed.