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Australian Government’s SKA Pre-construction Grants Program open for applications

19 March 2013, Canberra, Australia - Australian science and industry organisations are being invited to bid for design and engineering work on the world’s largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the Australian Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.

The Government will help Australian organisations seeking to compete for pre-construction work packages on the SKA by providing financial support through the $18.8 million SKA Pre-construction Grants Program.

“The SKA project is a unique opportunity for Australia to shine internationally and it is essential that we support local science and industry in this venture,” Mr Bowen said.

This Government investment will help the Australian science community to play a leading role in this global infrastructure project.

“Australia has world class science institutions and industry, so I am confident that our scientists and engineers are well placed to be involved in key elements of research and development for the SKA.”

The international SKA Organisation has called for applications from around the world for the design phase of the SKA (see announcement), which is worth around $114 million and is the forerunner to construction work beginning in 2016.

The Australian Government research and development funding, announced in December last year, would be offered on a co-investment basis to supplement resources contributed by Australian organisations, subject to the success of their bids for SKA work packages.

The international Request for Proposals is available on the international SKA website at www.skatelescope.org/publications/request-for-proposals/

Customer guidelines for the SKA Pre-construction Grants Program can be found at www.ska.gov.au

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered 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 Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

Members of the SKA Organisation as of March 2013:

  • Australia: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
  • Canada: National Research Council
  • China: Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Germany: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • Italy: National Institute for Astrophysics
  • Netherlands: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
  • New Zealand: Ministry of Economic Development
  • Republic of South Africa: National Research Foundation
  • Sweden: Onsala Space Observatory
  • United Kingdom: Science and Technology Facilities Council

Associate member:

  • India: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics

SKA website: www.skatelescope.org

Media contacts for this release:
Bill Kyriakopoulos: +61 (0)400 510 802 / Laura Stevens: +61 (0)432 833 769

Contact for SKA Australia:
Jerry Skinner, SKA Australia Communications Manager. Email: Jerry.Skinner@innovation.gov.au. Phone: +61 2 6213 6298

Contact for SKA Organisation:
William Garnier, SKA Chief Communications Officer. Email: w.garnier@skatelescope.org. Phone: +44 (0) 161 306 9613 and + 44 (9) 7814 908 932

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