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Over The Horizon

SALTY Investment

The University of Canterbury is providing $US1 million in cash and kind to participate in the Southern African Large Telescope project as a founding partner.

The telescope will be the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, and participation in the project is expected to provide a significant boost for the fundamental sciences and engineering at the University and also within New Zealand. [OTH, April 2000]

"It will provide an opportunity for New Zealand optical designers, engineers, scientists and technicians to construct an instrument to be used on the telescope in South Africa. It will demonstrate to the world the high level of expertise that is available within the science and engineering community in this country," says Vice-Chancellor Professor Daryl Le Grew.

A stake in the project strengthens links not only with South Africa but also with the other partners in the project in Poland, Germany and the US.

New Zealand consortium spokesperson Associate Professor Peter Cottrell, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Canterbury, is extremely excited at joining the project.

"This has been the goal of the New Zealand astronomical community for a number of years and it will enable young New Zealand scientists and engineers to be linked with one of the most significant new astronomical projects of the decade. The excitement of being able to work alongside astronomers from a wide range of institutions will mean that New Zealand will become a focus for large telescope research and attract young New Zealand women and men into science and engineering disciplines and careers.

"We are not trying to train hundreds of PhD astronomers, but astronomy is the oldest of the sciences and it has always enabled the wider community to get a glimpse of the wonders in the universe."