updated 1/13/2004 4:58:30 PM ET 2004-01-13T21:58:30

A team of U.S. and Japanese universities plans to build an observatory in Utah with the goal of uncovering the source of high-energy cosmic rays.

The Telescope Array is scheduled to begin construction this spring and be completed by 2007 on rangeland in western Utah’s Millard County, the University of Utah said Monday.

The Japanese government has promised $12 million toward construction, while American universities hope to raise another $5 million to $6 million in U.S. government grants, said Pierre Sokolsky, a physics professor at the University of Utah and principal investigator for the project.

The University of New Mexico and the University of Montana are also part of the project.

Scientists hope the Telescope Array will help explain the mystery behind what is hurling high-energy cosmic rays, or subatomic particles, through space.

There are a number of theories for what force is behind these rays, including energy that got caught in cracks in space-time during the Big Bang, or previously unseen matter from far away, Sokolsky said.

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