SKA telescope could aid collaboration
IF THE Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope used open access platforms, this would "not only provide free access to research material … but it can also help to facilitate collaborations between researchers in developed and developing countries," SKA SA site bid manager Adrian Tiplady said on Wednesday.
South Africa will host 70% of the SKA, which will be the largest radio telescope in the world and will produce more raw data in one day than human history has developed in its existence.
South Africa is trying to position itself as a knowledge economy, but it is often difficult and expensive for international researchers to access both local and international research. This is particularly relevant for South Africa with its comparatively small science budget.
Radio astronomy, formerly a niche field in the country, has always promoted both "open skies" and open access policies.
Open skies refers to a policy in which any scientist with a worthy science proposal can use radio telescopes, irrespective of whether their country or institution helped pay for it. "Radio astronomy has always supported a free skies policy and thus also supported free access to information," Dr Tiplady said. "The objective of the open-access movement therefore fit in quite well with the approach of those working in radio astronomy ...
"We do not yet have the technology to store all the new knowledge that will be collected. However, this is another challenging field where different disciplines can work together to find solutions and share this on a number of platforms — including open access platforms," he said.
However, international SKA Organisation head Phil Diamond said yesterday that no decision had been taken regarding open access, and that the matter was under discussion.
Similar, SKA spokeswoman Jo Bowler said that it had not been decided whether the SKA would have an "open skies" policy.