Highlights

2017

Empowering the SKA in Africa
The Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town plays an empowering role for Square Kilometre Array (SKA) partners in other African countries. It started when the CHPC unveiled the fastest computer on the continent in July 2016.

The Netherlands and South Africa partner to tackle the challenge with the immense amount of data the SKA telescope will generate
The Netherlands and South Africa have set up a data science partnership to establish national and regional data centres in order to tackle one of the most significant challenges presented by the SKA telescope: how to manage, process, and make accessible the immense amount of data the telescope will generate.

SKA SA and Kareeberg Local Municipality collaborates
Members of the SKA SA management team had a one day workshop with members of the Kareeberg Local Municipality on 1 February 2017 to provide input to the Municipality’s Integrated Development Planning (IDP).

Mivuyo Day Care Centre opens its doors
The Mivuyo Project, a day care facility built by SKA SA staff members in Gugulethu, was officially opened on Thursday, 26 January 2017.

Square Kilometre Array South Africa highlighted in SONA 2017
The Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) was mentioned in President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address, delivered on Thursday, 9 February 2017.

SKA SA exhibits at the British High Commission’s Eve of Parliament reception
SKA SA exhibited at the British High Commission’s Eve of Parliament reception on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 held at the residence of the High Commissioner, Dame Judith MacGregor.

SKA SA and Karoo Hoogland Local Municipality collaborates
Following the meetings with the Kareeberg Municipality, members of the SKA SA management team had a one day workshop with the Karoo Hoogland Municipality on 8 February 2017 to provide input to the Municipality’s Integrated Development Planning (IDP).

SKA SA and Agri SA partners for the benefit of local communities
SKA South Africa and Agri SA signed an agreement on Wednesday, 22 February 2017 that commits both organisations to jointly ensure that local communities of the Karoo benefit from the SKA project.

SKA SA hosts Communication Stakeholder Forum
SKA SA hosted a Communication Stakeholder Forum with the Pixley Ka Seme district Communications Forum in Carnarvon on Monday, 27 and Tuesday, 28 February 2017. The two-day programme included a tour of the SKA site at Losberg.

Science Beyond Borders 2017
The Square Kilometre Array took part in Science Beyond Borders Festival, also known as Science Tube, which was held at the Thabo Moorosi Multipurpose Centre in Kuruman between 13 and 16 February 2017.

SKA South Africa provided bursaries to four more Carnarvon matriculants to study at university
Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) has awarded bursaries, for university studies in science and technology, to four learners, who matriculated from Carnarvon High School in 2016.

SAN Council of SA visits SKA site
Square Kilometre Array South Africa hosted the San Council of South Africa at the SKA site at Losberg outside Carnarvon on 15 March 2017.

Karoo’s HERA radio telescope attracts even more international funding
The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) radio telescope, located only a few kilometres from the MeerKAT radio telescope, was awarded a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in the US to the value of $5.8 million, equivalent to approximately R75 million.

SKA SA wins 3rd place for best exhibition at Scifest Africa 2017
SKA SA was awarded Third Place: Best Exhibition at Scifest Africa, South Africa’s National Science Festival, at the festival’s awards dinner on Tuesday, 14 March 2017.

KERN-2 released by science team
The SKA SA science team is proud to announce the release of KERN-2! KERN is a bi-annually released set of radio astronomical software packages. It should contain most of the tools that a radio astronomer needs to work with radio telescope data. The biggest changes are the inclusion of a stripped down version of the CASA framework, and an update of all the packages in KERN.

Congratulations on another major accomplishment
Congratulations to SKA SA on another major accomplishment, the integration of the 32 MeerKAT antennas with single polarisation correlator.

MeerKAT making progress
As of close of business on 31 March 2017, 54 pedestal/yoke assemblies have been installed and 43 dishes have been lifted at the Losberg site in the Karoo.

Cape Town learner receives grant from SKA SA’s Imbasa outreach programme
A learner who completed matric last year at the Ikamvalethu Senior Secondary School in Langa, Cape Town, was recently awarded more than R6000 for registration fees for university studies and other expenses by SKA SA.

Pioneering research and data management in Africa: a dual first
Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) in collaboration with the UK-Newton Fund, the Department of Science and Technology, the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA); and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) hosted the first Big Data Africa Summer School on the African continent from 2-12 April 2017.

Sasol Inzalo Foundation Mobile Science Lab officially handed over to HartRAO
The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) celebrated an enormous milestone on 11 April 2017 when the official handover of the Mobile Science Lab from the Sasol Inzalo Foundation (SaIF) took place at the Observatory in Gauteng.

Northern Cape teachers receive robotics training
Thirteen teachers from schools in Carnarvon, Vosburg, Loxton, Van Wyksvlei, Williston and Brandvlei recently participated in the Astemi Robotics Training 1 and 2 Explorer Competition on 10 and 11 March 2017 at the Carnarvon High School hall.

Roscosmos satellite laser and radio ranging system officially inaugurated
The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) was host to the official opening of the Russian satellite laser and radio ranging system, SAZHEN-TM+OWS on 27 February 2017.

African partner country students complete AVN training at HartRAO
Students from four African countries completed training on the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory in Gauteng from 6-24 March 2017.

SKA SA hosts President of Institution of Civil Engineers
SKA SA hosted the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Professor Tim Broyd, in Cape Town on 5 April 2017.

European Parliament delegation visits SKA SA office in Cape Town
A delegation of the European Parliament visited the SKA SA office in Pinelands, Cape Town on Friday, 21 April 2017.

Careers Day – Bandwidth Barn 2017
The Square Kilometre Array participated in Careers Day, which was hosted by and held at Bandwidth Barn in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on Friday, 28 April 2017.

SKA SA presents first Array Release 1.5 images taken with MeerKAT 32 to Minister Naledi Pandor
SKA SA Chief Scientist Dr Fernando Camilo and SKA SA Head of Science Commissioning Dr Sharmila Goedhart, released to the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, the recent AR1.5 results, images achieved by using various configurations of the 32 antennas currently operational in the Karoo, prior to the Minister delivering the Budget Vote in Parliament on Tuesday, 16 May 2017.

SKA SA, San Council of SA sign MOU
Square Kilometre Array South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the San Council of South Africa on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 in Cape Town.

Community Information Sessions held in Carnarvon, Van Wyksvlei
SKA SA held two Community Information Sessions in Carnarvon and Van Wyksvlei on Monday, 8 and Tuesday, 9 May 2017.

Dr Rob Adam delivers update on SKA SA and MeerKAT to Parliament
Dr Rob Adam, SKA SA Managing Director, delivered an update on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and MeerKAT projects in Parliament on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 to the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology.

IAU and SKA SA collaborate to promote science communication in Africa
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Office for Young Astronomers (OYA) and SKA SA collaborated to host a science communication training workshop for 30 African postgraduate astronomy students in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 20-21 May 2017.

Schools outreach in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)
The Square Kilometre Array conducted an outreach activity at the Siyamukela High School and the ArcelorMittal Science Centre in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal on 22 May 2017, and participated in the Zululand Festival (Zulfest) from 24 to 27 May 2017.

Eding International Festival in Polokwane
The Square Kilometre Array participated in the Eding International Festival, which was held at Polokwane Showgrounds in Limpopo, between 15 and 19 May 2017.

Career Awareness Day in Mamelodi, Pretoria
The SKA and HartRAO participated in Career Awareness Day, which took place in Mamelodi West in Pretoria on 27 May 2017.

SKA SA partners with Micron on a Webinar ahead of ISC Show 2017
SKA SA partnered with Micron in hosting a Webinar on 13 June 2017 facilitated by Jim Adams, NASA Deputy Chief Technologist (Ret.), ahead of the International Supercomputing (ISC) Show 2017 which was held in Frankfurt, Germany recently.

Ghana and South Africa celebrate first success of African network of telescopes
The Ministries of Ghana and South Africa announced the combination of ‘first light’ science observations which confirm the successful conversion of the Ghana communications antenna from a redundant telecoms instrument into a functioning Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) radio telescope.

SKA SA hosts SA’s 2016 top matriculants
SKA SA hosted South Africa’s 2016 top 20 matriculants in mathematics and physical science at the SKA site at Losberg on 25 June 2017. The visit formed part of a collaboration between SKA SA and the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) to host the students on a week-long national astronomy tour.

Two YPs present at SKA Engineering Meeting in Rotterdam
Two Young Professional Development Programme protégés from SKA SA presented their work to more than 300 delegates at the SKA Engineering Meeting held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in June 2017.

Big Data Project launched in Ghana
A one-day work session was held on 11 July 2017 at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) in Ghana to kick off the High Performance Computing (HPC) training programme in Ghana.

ASSET Mathematics and Science Holiday Programme
SKA SA content specialists Audrey Dikgale, Lerato Sebokolodi, Isaac Sihlangu, Vereese van Tonder and Namhla Mabombo participated in workshops and presentations for Grade 8 and Grade 9 learners at the Cape Town Science Centre on 5 and 11 July 2017.

Minister Naledi Pandor gazettes establishment of SARAO as a National Research Facility
The National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have been working towards the consolidation of South Africa’s radio astronomy facilities.

Two SKA SA staff members named in inaugural group of South Africa’s First Inspiring Fifty
Anita Loots, Head of Africa Planning at SKA SA and Pontsho Maruping, General Manager: Commercialisation at SKA SA, were both named as a member of the group of South Africa’s First Inspiring Fifty.

Junior Science Process Developer wins Thomson Reuters Award
Olorato Mosiane, Junior Science Process Developer at SKA SA, won the Thomson Reuters ADSA Data Science Student of the Year Award.

SKA NC Robotics hosts Junior First Lego League Competition
SKA Northern Cape Robotics hosted the SKA Junior First Lego League Kids Competition on 29 July 2017 during which the children had to build a robot using their WeDo 2.0 sets.

Aspiring YPD candidates join SKA SA during Open Day
The SKA SA Human Capital Development Programme hosted postgraduate students during its Young Professionals Development Programme Open Day on 10 and 11 July 2017.

Joint media statement of the outcomes of the 4th Ministerial Meeting of the SKA Africa partner countries
Members of the nine Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African partner countries represented by its respective Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Science and Technology concluded the Fourth Ministerial Meeting on the SKA in Accra, Ghana, on 24 August 2017 by signing a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on radio astronomy.

SKA SA Science Processing Developer attends NINE programme in USA
Apiwe Hotele, Science Processing Developer in the Science Data Processing team at SKA SA, attended the National and International Non-Traditional Exchange (NINE) Training Programme 2017.

Digital Backend team attends CASPER workshop in USA
Ten members of the SKA SA Digital Backend team attended the annual Collaboration for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER) workshop in Pasadena, California from 14 to 18 August 2017.

Learners and educators visit SKA site during National Science Week
SKA SA hosted 168 learners and 12 educators from Brandvlei, Carnarvon, Fraserburg, Loxton, Van Wyksvlei and Williston at the SKA site at Losberg in the Karoo during South Africa’s National Science Week which took place in August 2017.

SKA SA, NSTF co-host Science Café for young women
SKA SA and the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) co-hosted a Science Café for young women in science at the Bandwidth Barn Khayelitsha on 9 August 2017.

AU and SKA SA collaborate to promote science communication in Mauritius and Ghana
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) and SKA SA collaborated to host science communication training workshops for 25 African postgraduate astronomy students, as well as 10 staff members of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI), in August 2017.

SKA SA Junior Commissioning Scientist wins prize at first Deep Learning Indaba Conference held at Wits University
Simphiwe Zitha, Junior Commissioning Scientist at SKA SA, attended the first Deep Learning Indaba Conference from 10 to 15 September 2017 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

CSIRO members visit SKA SA to perform PULSE@Parkes activities
Robert Hollow, Education Officer and Dr George Hobbs, Parkes Team Leader with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Astronomy and Space Science in Australia, visited Cape Town to perform PULSE@Parkes activities.

Scope X 2017
SARAO, represented by Eunice Matsetela, Phumelele Ntuli and Dimpho Lephaila from SKA SA and Tony Dhlamini from HartRAO, participated in Scope X 2017.

SKA SA website wins Best Corporate Website at 2017 SA Publication Forum Awards
The SKA SA website won the Best Corporate Website Award at this year’s SA Publication Forum Awards held on Thursday, 28 September 2017 in Johannesburg.

SKA SA funded students on their way to CSIRO for Vacation Work Scholarship
Two SKA SA bursary funded students, Charissa Button and Zahra Kader, were selected to participate in the second exchange Australian vacation work programme.

64th MeerKAT antenna dish lifted onto pedestal
On 18 October 2017 the last of the 64 MeerKAT dishes were lifted onto its pedestal, a major milestone for Square Kilometre Array South Africa. To date 56 antennas have been handed over for integration, well on its way to have the full complement of 64 antennas integrated by March 2018.

MeerKAT makes its debut scientific contribution on an international collaboration and major discovery
An unprecedented international collaboration of telescopes has led to the first direct detection of gravitational waves – ripples in space and time – in addition to light from the spectacular collision of two neutron stars. The discovery marks the first time that a cosmic event has been viewed in both gravitational waves and light.

SKA SA CAM team wins Best Poster Award at ICALEPCS 2017
The SKA SA Control and Monitoring (CAM) Team, under the leadership of Ray Brederode, Functional Manager: Software, won the Best Poster Award at the 2017 International Conference on Accelerator and Large Experimental Physics Control Systems (ICALEPCS) held in Barcelona, Spain.

SKA SA Junior Engineer wins Sharpest Systems Engineer Award
Rea Nkhumise, a Junior Engineer in the Science Processing Development team at SKA SA and part of the Young Professionals Development Programme, won the Sharpest Systems Engineer Award at the Greatest Young System Engineer of the Year (GYSEOY) Challenge.

SARAO and SAEON sign three-year Memorandum of Agreement to implement the Integrated Environmental Management Plan for SKA in South Africa
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), which are National Research Facilities managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF), signed a three-year Memorandum of Agreement to implement the Integrated Environmental Management Plan (IEMP) for the SKA project in South Africa.

MeerKAT construction recognised by industry at 2017 Logistics Achiever Awards
The MeerKAT radio telescope, currently being built by Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) was recognised by the construction industry when it was presented with a Special Platinum Award at the 2017 Logistics Achiever Awards.

8th AstroInformatics Symposium held in Cape Town
The 8th annual Astroinformatics Symposium was held from 7 to 10 November in Cape Town. Astroinformatics 2017 built on the successful series of meetings devoted to the growing challenge of scientific exploitation of massive and complex data sets from major observational projects at radio, optical and infrared wavelength, and from associated large-scale simulations.

SKA SA bursary holder awarded L’Oreal-Unesco For Women In Science fellowship
Dr Kenda Knowles, an SKA SA bursary holder and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has been awarded the L’Oreal-Unesco For Women In Science fellowship.

Minister Pandor opens new road to Losberg site, meets with residents of Carnarvon and surrounding communities
Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, opened the new road from Carnarvon to the SKA Losberg site, followed by an Imbizo and public participation programme with SKA SA and the communities of Carnarvon, Williston, Vosburg, Brandvlei, Loxton, Calvinia and Van Wyksvlei on Saturday, 18 November 2017.

High-level NRF and research delegation visits the Losberg site
On 22 November 2017, Dr Rob Adam, Managing Director of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and Dr Clifford Nxomani, recently appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer: National Research Infrastructure Platforms at the National Research Foundation (NRF), visited the Karoo radio astronomy reserve, touring the Karoo Array Processor Building; and the KAT-7, HERA and MeerKAT radio telescope arrays.

SARAO participates in Science Centre World Summit 2017
The Japanese word tsunagari means “connection” and is the spirit in which professionals from science centres and museums around the world met at the Science Centre World Summit (SCWS) 2017 in Tokyo, Japan from 15-17 November 2017.