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Giant Australian radio-telescope work to start

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The future ... the Square Kilometre Array will be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever made and will allow scientists to see back in time.

The future ... the Square Kilometre Array will be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever made and will allow scientists to see back in time.

Australian scientists will soon begin work on the development of the largest and most capable radio-telescope ever made with the federal government promising almost $19 million in funding.

Science and Research Minister Chris Evans on Thursday announced a new $18.8 million research and development fund towards the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project.

The SKA will provide scientists with the farthest peek into the universe and, therefore, time.

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That $2 billion project will comprise 3000 dishes spanning South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and will be funded by a consortium of 20 nations.

Senator Evans said the fund ensured Australian science and industry benefitted from significant research and development work needed before construction started in 2016.

"Australia's science institutions and industry have world-class capability in this field and are well-placed to get involved in key elements of the research and development work," he said.

"This funding is about making sure that the Australian science community can team up with industry to compete with other global consortia on bids for pre-construction work packages."

Senator Evans said the government would work with companies with relevant expertise over coming months about their involvement in the pre-construction phase and co-ordinate with the international SKA Office, based in the UK.

"The SKA is an opportunity for Australia to showcase to the world our ability to successfully deliver scientific projects at this scale," he said.

Australian companies will be competing to develop system and sub-system designs, verification instruments, implementation plans and documentation for a range of work packages including the low frequency aperture arrays, dishes, site infrastructure and the central signal processor.

The project continues to move forward with October's formal ratification of the SKA Organisation's decision to locate elements of the SKA in Australia and southern Africa and the 2012 announcements by Sweden, Canada and Germany to join the project.

AAP