13 Mar 2012

NZ scientists confident of telescope facility bid

8:15 am on 13 March 2012

New Zealand scientists say they have full confidence in an Australasian bid to build a massive radio telescope, despite reports a rival bid is favoured.

The countries are jointly bidding for the facility to be located in Western Australia.

Australian media are reporting that a group of African countries is ahead in the race to be awarded the multibillion-dollar Square Kilometre Array - a configuration of thousands of radio telescopes that will look into deep space.

But a radio astronomer from Auckland University of Technology, Sergei Gulyaev, says he is not too sure about the reliability of the reports.

"I think it's very premature to say that the decision has been taken. We are pretty much in the running now."

Melanie Johnston-Hollitt from Victoria University, who is representing New Zealand on the trans-Tasman bid, says she has confidence in its proposal.

"We put together an extremely good bid, I was very proud to be involved in the creation of that bid and we still believe we have a superior site for hosting the Square Kilometre Array."

Neutral countries Italy, China, the United Kingdom and Netherlands will vote on where to build the array in early April.