New telescope to be in South Africa

Australia and South Africa will share hosting of a giant radio telescope made up of thousands of separate dishes and intended to help scientists figure out the make-up of the universe, the international consortium overseeing the project announced Friday.

South Africa and Australia, which partnered with New Zealand in bidding for the project, had competed fiercely. South Africa claimed victory Friday, saying it got two of the projects three major components.

"We may feel slightly disappointed that we didn't get the whole thing. But I think one should emphasize that we did get most of it," said Justin Jonas, the chief South African scientist on the project. "Two-thirds of the biggest instrument in the world is still the biggest instrument in the world."

Australia also welcomed the split decision. The Square Kilometer Array telescope will be 50 times more sensitive and scan the sky 10,000 times faster than any existing telescope. It requires huge open spaces with very few humans. The organization said dividing construction of the telescope will "maximize on investments already made by both Australia and South Africa."