How to calculate the returns on star-gazing

Analysis

Countries do not buy into massive scientific projects just for the prestige or to placate their scientists. Even projects such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be the largest scientific instrument on Earth, have to offer member countries something other than collaboration and advancement.

This is why the principle of juste retour (fair return on investment) comes up in relation to the SKA.

“Governments put in several tens of millions, contributing to construction. They expect approximately the same coming back to their national industries,” SKA Organisation director general Phil Diamond said in 2013.

The SKA is in its pre-construction phase, which is capped at €650-million. Construction of phase one, which will begin in 2018, will extend South Africa’s 64-dish MeerKAT to about 200 antennae and about 100 000 dipoles built in Australia. Dipoles look like one-metre-high cellphone masts.

To read more of this story, find the full article, which was first published in Mail & Guardian, click here.

 

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