3 Apr 2011

Telescope HQ selected

8:09 am on 3 April 2011

Jodrell Bank Observatory in England has been selected as the headquarters for a £1.3 billion project to build the world's biggest radio telescope.

An agreement to run the 'Square Kilometre Array' from Jodrell Bank was signed in Rome by Australia, China, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany, Italy and Britain.

SKA is designed to answer some key questions about the universe. Its location is undecided but the BBC reports it could be built in Australia or Southern Africa.

The new headquarters at Jodrell Bank will open in January 2012, superseding the existing project office at the University of Manchester.

The 'array' takes its name from the size of its collecting area. Instead of a single radio dish 1km across, it will be made up of thousands of smaller ones.

The total collecting area will be approximately 1 square km. Twenty countries are involved in the project.

Construction could begin by 2016, with the telescope expected to be complete by 2024.