The first of the 64 antennae of South Africa’s Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT) has been completed, marking the first step in the construction of the Southern hemisphere’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope.
The MeerKAT is the precursor to Square Kilometer Array (SKA), an international initiative to launch the world’s most sensitive radio telescope.
The other 63 antennae are currently under construction and are expected to be complete by 2017.
“Because of its so-called ‘Offset Gregorian’, design, each MeerKAT antenna will have two reflectors – a main reflector with a 13.5 meter projected diameter and a smaller sub-reflector with a diameter of 3.8 meters. With this design there are no struts in the way to block or scatter incoming electromagnetic signals,” said MeerKAT programme manager Glen Collins.
He said the design will make the instrument more sensitive than traditional instruments.
The 64 MeerKAT receptors will be connected by 170km of fibre optic cable, allowing individual instruments to as a single unit.
“The processed data is then sent to the MeerKAT archive in Cape Town, and on to science collaborators in South Africa and abroad,” said general manager of infrastructure and site specifications, Tracy Cheetham.
HumanIPO reported yesterday the SKA would help to transform international perceptions of Africa, proving it to be a location for technology and science.
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