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Media releases and statements

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(2003 - 2011)

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New broadband communication centre opened at NMMU
26 March 2015 - The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, welcomed the launch of the new Centre for Broadband Communication at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth today. The centre will conduct pioneering research around optical fibre data transport for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.

World's largest radio telescope takes major step towards construction
9 March 2015 - At their meeting last week at the SKA Organisation Headquarters in Manchester, UK, the SKA Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to move the world's largest radio telescope forward to its final pre-construction phase. The design of the €650M first phase of the SKA (SKA1) is now defined, consisting of two complementary world-class instruments –one in Australia, one in South Africa–, both expecting to deliver exciting and transformational science.

Shared Sky exhibition
9 February 2015 - Shared Sky stems from a vision by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation to bring together, South African and Australian artists in a collaborative exhibition celebrating humanity’s ancient cultural wisdom. This vision embodies the spirit of the international science and engineering collaboration that is the SKA project itself, bringing together many nations around two sites in South Africa and Australia, to study the same sky.

Probing the Universe with the Square Kilometre Array
19 January 2015 - Scientists from South Africa are playing a leading role in developing the science which will be done with the world's largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.

Meeting of minds
8 December 2014 - SKA SA-supported PhD and MSc students, postdoctoral fellows and senior local and international researchers met in Stellenbosch for the ninth SKA SA postgraduate bursary conference, from 4 to 8 December.

The Max-Planck-Society (MPG) invests 11M€ into the South African MeerKAT radio telescope
2 December 2014 - The Minister for Science and Technology of South Africa and the President of the Max-Planck-Society (MPG) today announced that the MPG and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn will make available a total of €11 million (approximately R150 million) to build and install radio receivers on the South African MeerKAT radio telescope.

SKA SA and Vox Telecom bring connectivity to rural Northern Cape
27 November 2014 - SKA SA (Square Kilometre Array South Africa) and Vox Telecom have announced a partnership to provide farming communities in the Northern Cape affected by the implementation of the Astronomy Geographic Advantage (AGA) Act with voice and data services at a dramatically reduced cost.

Media invitation: SKA SA and Vox Telecom bring connectivity to affected farming communities in Northern Cape
27 November 2014 - SKA SA and Vox Telecom are announcing a partnership to provide rural communities, located in areas protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage (AGA) Act in the Northern Cape, with satellite telecommunication services at a dramatically reduced cost. A media briefing session on this partnership will be held on Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at the SKA SA Offices in Rosebank.

SKA SA General Manager receives Alumni Award
18 November 2014 - SKA South Africa congratulates Tracy Cheetham, SKA SA General Manager: Infrastructure and Site Operations, on her Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Alumni Award.

Inauguration of Stratosat Reflector Panel Manufacturing Facility
4 November 2014 - Stratosat Datacom (Pty) Ltd celebrated the inauguration of its Panel Manufacturing Facility on the 4 November 2014 in Kempton Park together with SKA South Africa (SKA SA), the Department of Science and Technology, General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies and various South African suppliers.

Pending retirement of Dr Bernie Fanaroff, Director of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa Project, and appointment of Dr Rob Adam as director designate
3 November 2014 - The Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, MP, wishes to announce the retirement of Dr Bernie Fanaroff from the SKA Project Office at the end of 2015.

Eastern Cape Community Centre artists to join SKA delegation in Australia
30 September 2014 - As part of an ingenious collaboration between science and indigenous art, three artists from a small community art centre in Nieu-Bethesda in the Eastern Cape have travelled with an engineering delegation from SKA South Africa to Australia for the launch in Perth on 30 September 2014 of the Shared Sky project. This art exhibition will run in parallel with the SKA Engineering meeting in Perth, which brings together the teams from around the world who are working on the design of the first phase of the Square Kilometre Array telescope, to be built from 2018 in South Africa and Australia.

Mike Gaylard: Radio astronomy has lost a star
20 August 2014 - The global radio astronomy community was shocked and saddened by the premature death of a true stalwart of experimental science and education, Dr Mike Gaylard. His passing is mourned, in particular, by his South African colleagues and the SKA South Africa project office.

Minister Pandor strengthens science, technology and innovation partnerships with United States of America
5 August 2014 - The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, is currently in the United States of America to strengthen science, technology and innovation partnerships. Several leading academic, scientific and philanthropic organisations in the USA have invited Minister Pandor to participate in high-level science-related engagements in Washington, DC, from 4 to 7 August 2014. These events have been organised on the margins of the United States-Africa Leaders Summit, hosted by President Obama and attended by President Zuma.

Discovery of a triple supermassive black hole by South African and international scientists
25 June 2014 - SKA SA Project Director Bernie Fanaroff today congratulated Cape Town astronomer Roger Deane and the team of SKA SA-funded researchers who have discovered a triple supermassive black hole system. Four South African institutions (the Universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape, as well as Rhodes University and SKA South Africa) are represented by the research team, which is a very positive confirmation of the dynamic and significant radio astronomy which has developed rapidly in South Africa. The discovery demonstrates that South Africa has the scientific and technical expertise to be a world leader in radio astronomy and to contribute directly to gravitational wave experiments that will provide fundamental insights not only to astronomy, but also more broadly to physics.

Trio of supermassive black holes shake space-time
25 June 2014 - Astronomers have discovered three closely orbiting supermassive black holes in a galaxy more than 4 billion light years away. This is the tightest trio of black holes known to date and is remarkable since most galaxies have just one at their centre (usually with a mass between 1 million to 10 billion times that of the Sun). The discovery suggests that these closely packed supermassive black holes are far more common than previously thought and has been published in the highly esteemed scientific journal Nature.

First MeerKAT antenna and high-tech data centre launched in the Karoo
27 March 2014 - The first of 64 antennas that will make up South Africa's new radio telescope - MeerKAT - will be officially launched on 27 March 2014 by South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom. The Minister will also officially open the specialised MeerKAT Karoo Array Processor Building - the cutting edge data centre for the MeerKAT telescope that has been built in an underground bunker at the Karoo observatory site.

The SKA will transform our understanding of the Universe
21 February 2014 - The Who's Who of global radio astronomy gathered in Stellenbosch this week to discuss future science with the SKA. The meeting was characterised by "electrifying expectations" and "impatient excitement" on the part of scientists who are keen to see the long-awaited SKA (Square Kilometre Array), and its precursors such as South Africa's MeerKAT and Australia's ASKAP, become a reality.

MeerKAT foundations complete
12 February 2014 - The 64th and final foundation for the MeerKAT telescope antenna was poured yesterday (Tuesday, February 11th, 2014) at South Africa's SKA site in the Karoo. Close to 5 000 m³ of concrete and more than 570 tons of steel were used to construct the foundations over the last nine months.

World scientists and engineers to discuss 21st century's biggest headache: what to do with big data?
21 January 2014 - Leading physicists and engineers from South Africa and around the world will converge on Wits University from 27 - 31 January 2014 to workshop one of the biggest challenges all scientists face this century: How to deal with big data output?

SKA South Africa mourns the passing of Madiba
6 December 2013 - SKA South Africa mourns the passing of South Africa's first democratically elected President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He was an icon of our struggle for freedom and democracy and against apartheid and racism. He was an example to us and to the world of humility, dignity, selflessness and leadership. He was a symbol of our unity and hope for the future.

SKAO's director-general delivers keynote address at SKA SA Bursary Conference
27 November 2013 - Prof. Philip Diamond, the first director general of the international SKA Organisation, delivered the keynote address at the 8th annual SKA SA Bursary Conference, being held in Stellenbosch this week. Prof. Diamond described the SKA as "a physics machine for the 21st century" in that it will not only be used by astronomers, but also by solar, atmospheric, ionospheric physicists and more.

8th Annual SKA SA Postgraduate Bursary Conference kicks off in Stellenbosch
26 November 2013 - "You must rise to the task and deliver on the belief we have placed in you, and the investment we have made in you collectively." With these words of inspiration, Dr Thomas auf der Heyde, deputy director-general of the South African Department of Science and Technology, concluded his opening remarks to the 215 delegates who are gathered this week in Stellenbosch for the 8th annual SKA Africa Postgraduate Bursary Conference.

Top SKA academics and students to meet in Stellenbosch
21 November 2013 - Next week, 215 delegates will participate in the 8th annual postgraduate bursary conference of South Africa's SKA project, taking place from 25 - 28 November in Stellenbosch. South African students and researchers working on the SKA project will share the stage with invited speakers from African partner countries and SKA leaders from Europe, China and Australia.

SKA boost for education in the Karoo
19 November 2013 - The Department of Science and Technology and SKA South Africa will unveil two community initiatives today that will provide exciting new ICT solutions and learning resources to this remote Karoo region. These initiatives have been made possible by generous donations and corporate social investments by the SKA SA's industry partners.

SKA workshop in KwaZulu-Natal to train bright young astronomy minds
18 November 2013 - Leading astronomers from several international institutions will train a group of bright young astronomy students at an introductory radio astronomy school hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The SKA funded workshop is aimed at preparing 40 South African undergraduate students in the methods required to work with data from the Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT) and the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

Hundreds of world's experts engaged in the final race for designing the largest radio telescope on earth
4 November 2013 - The SKA Project enters a new era and takes a major step towards the start of the construction of the world's largest radio telescope, after the announcement of the teams who will be responsible for its final design. SKA South Africa has been selected to lead two of the SKA Work Packages.

Ghanaian team first from Africa to start SKA-related training
25 October 2013 - Seven Ghanaians arrived in South Africa last week to begin training on the independent operation and maintenance of radio telescopes in Africa. Using a miniature version of a radio telecsope, they will learn how to design, build, operate and maintain an African telescope network that will support the scientific and technical activities of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

UK minister to visit SKA project in Karoo, South Africa
10 September 2013 - Tomorrow, the UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, The Right Honourable David Willetts, will be touching down on South Africa's new, all-weather, landing strip in the Karoo, where South Africa is building the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

First MeerKAT antenna foundation poured
15 August 2013 - The concrete for the first MeerKAT antenna foundation was poured yesterday (Wednesday 14 August 2013) at South Africa's SKA site in the Karoo. This is the first of 64 similar foundations that will be constructed for this telescope over the next nine months.

New agreement will foster high-level science collaboration with the US
7 August 2013 - South Africa's SKA Project (SKA SA) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the US have agreed to continue their collaboration across a broad front to advance cutting-edge radio astronomy projects in both countries over the next five years.

Universe is expanding at ever-accelerating pace - UCT PhD graduate
5 June 2013 - The universe is not merely expanding but is doing so at an ever-accelerating pace, according to University of Cape Town PhD graduate Obinna Umeh. Umeh was supported by SKA SA for his doctoral studies.

South Africa's new radio telescope reveals giant outbursts from binary star system
16 May 2013 - The first scientific paper based on observations performed with South Africa's new KAT-7 radio telescope, has been accepted for publication by the prestigious journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomy Society. This is a significant milestone for South Africa's SKA project.

Ground-breaking science and spectacular cosmic images from the PAPER instrument in the Karoo
10 May 2013 - Scientific studies done with the "PAPER" array, one of the world-class scientific instruments in South Africa's Karoo Radio Astronomy Reserve, is producing ground-breaking science and spectacular cosmic images, resulting in several important articles in top astronomy journals.

SKA Organisation Headquarters opening ceremony paves the way forward for the world's largest radio telescope
7 May 2013 - Less than a year after the decision to site the revolutionary Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in both Southern Africa and Australia, the SKA Organisation has opened its new international headquarters.

Dr Bernie Fanaroff receives South Africa's highest honour
27 April 2013 - Dr Bernie Fanaroff, Project Director of the SKA South Africa Project, was bestowed with the Order of Mapungubwe: Silver by the South African State President. This is South Africa's highest honour, awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement. Dr Fanaroff was recognised for his contribution to astronomy and dedication in raising South Africa's international stature as a world-class research destination, particularly in securing the majority of the SKA project for Africa.

SA's SKA bid leader receives country's highest honour
22 April 2013 - Doctor Bernie Fanaroff's nomination to receive a National Order has been accepted by President Jacob Zuma. Dr Fanaroff, who led South Africa's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array, will be awarded the Order of Mapungubwe in Silver in recognition of his contribution to astronomy and dedication in raising South Africa's international stature as a world-class research destination.

SKA South Africa encourages participation in the Square Kilometre Array engineering design
2 April 2013 - South African industry and institutions with appropriate existing expertise may be eligible for financial assistance on a shared cost, shared risk basis towards participation in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Pre-Construction Phase.

New radio telescope in SA will also shed new light on the earliest moments of the universe: C-BASS South commissioning at Hartebeesthoek
27 March 2013 - In the week that saw the release of the first results from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite, astronomers at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) near Johannesburg are working on a new radio telescope that will also shed new light on the very earliest moments of universe.

SKA on stage in Uganda
24 March 2013 - Prof Justin Jonas, associate director for science and engineering at the SKA South Africa Project, is sharing the stage with scientists from CERN, NASA and many other research institutions around the world at the BBC's first-ever "Festival of Science" in Africa. The event, from 24 - 28 March 2013, will be hosted at Freedom Square in the grounds of the University of Makerere in Kampala, Uganda.

SKA SA bursar wins South Africa's first Famelab competition
22 March 2013 - A PhD student from Cape Town and bursary holder of the SKA SA project, Michelle Knights, walked away with the first prize in South Africa's first FameLab competition - a competition where young scientists compete to see who is able to present the most captivating talk on their science in just three minutes.

SKA Pre Construction Phase Request for Proposals released
15 March 2013 - The International SKA Organisation Project Office issued a request for proposals (RfP) on 12 March 2013 for the SKA Pre Construction Phase. The RfP is an invitation for international consortia to bid for work packages to design the various components of the SKA, such as antennas, receivers, signal processing systems, data transport and high performance computers.

Big Bang meets big data: South Africa joins ASTRON and IBM to build the foundation for a new era of computing
11 March 2013 - Square Kilometer Array (SKA) South Africa, a business unit of the country's National Research Foundation is joining ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and IBM in a four-year collaboration to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems aimed at developing advanced technologies for handling the massive amount of data that will be produced by the SKA, which is one of the most ambitious science projects ever undertaken.

Visions for science capacity building in Africa through radio astronomy
11 March 2013 - On 6 and 7 March, the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) discussed its vision for the future of radio astronomy cooperation between Africa and Europe in the framework of a major science conference in the European Parliament.

Germany joins the SKA Organisation
20 December 2012 - The Board of Directors of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation has approved Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), as the tenth member of the organisation to participate in the detailed design of the SKA telescope.

Honorary doctorates at Stellenbosch University
14 December 2012 - Ms Gill Marcus, Prof Lionel Henry Opie and Dr Bernard Lewis (Bernie) Fanaroff received honorary doctorates from the University of Stellenbosch on Friday, 14 December 2012.

Memorial lecture honours legacy of Steve Rawlings
30 November 2012 - The inaugural Steve Rawlings Memorial Lecture was held at the 7th SKA Africa Postgraduate Bursary Conference in Stellenbosch on Thursday 29 November 2012.

Young, vibrant South Africans are the SKA's backbone
28 November 2012 - The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) team consists mostly of young South African scientists and engineers. "It is a demonstration of what South Africans are capable off," said Dr Bernie Fanaroff, Project Director of the SKA. Fanaroff was invited to deliver the annual distinguished John Orr Memorial Lecture at Wits University on Wednesday night, 27 November 2012. His lecture was entitled The SKA - a Science and Engineering Challenge and Opportunity.

International flavour at annual SKA Africa Postgraduate Bursary Conference
28 November 2012 - The annual SKA Africa Postgraduate Bursary Conference isn't just about presentations and updates on research projects. It also provides a chance for old acquaintances from across the world to meet up again, for valuable networking and for friendships to be strengthened.

All set for the 7th SKA Africa Postgraduate Bursary Conference
26 November 2012 - The chance to network and the opportunity to listen to talks outside of their field of expertise are what three M.Ing students from the University of Cape Town are looking forward to the most while they attend their first ever SKA Africa Postgraduate Bursary Conference.

New Avenues for Robust EU-Africa Relations
15 November 2012 - On 15 November 2012, Members of the European Parliament launched the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) Group as a further step on implementing the Written Declaration45/2011 on "Science Capacity Building in Africa: promoting European-African Radio Astronomy Partnerships".

Radio Astronomy: a driver for innovation in renewable energy
11 October 2012 - A workshop organised in Brussels on the 9th of October brought together radio astronomers, engineers and policy makers from the European Parliament and the European Commission to discuss how radio telescopes in remote areas can be supplied with green energy.

President Zuma visits SKA project in the Karoo to celebrate an African science success story
9 October 2012 - South Africa's President joined dignitaries, scientists, a large media contingent and members of the local community in the small town of Carnarvon to celebrate South Africa's successful bid to build the world's largest scientific instrument - the Square Kilometre Array - in Africa.

SKA Organisation appoints new Director General
5 September 2012 - The SKA Organisation Board of Directors is very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Philip Diamond as Director General of the SKA Organisation.

MeerKAT antenna contract will boost local industry
9 August 2012 - The contract for the design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of the 64 MeerKAT antennas has been awarded to the South African company Stratosat Datacom (Pty) Ltd.

Q & A - SKA site bid announcement
30 May 2012 - On 25 May 2012 the Members of the SKA Organisation announced that the SKA telescope would be split over Africa and Australia, with a majority share of the telescope destined to be built in South Africa. Prof Justin Jonas, Associate Director: Science and Engineering at SKA South Africa answers some FAQs regarding the outcome of the SKA site bid and the future of the SKA.

African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP)
30 May 2012 - A workshop on funding opportunities for African-European radio astronomy partnerships brought together Members of the European Parliament, officials of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, as well as leading African and European radio astronomers and representatives of global industry, to discuss how to further develop cooperation in radio astronomy between Africa and Europe. The workshop took place days after the SKA Organisation decided that the South Africa, along with its eight SKA partner countries in Africa, will host the mid-frequency dish array and dense aperture array of the iconic SKA radio telescope. The fruitful meeting ended with an elaboration of next steps to establish a dedicated African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) vehicle to enhance cooperation.

Africa celebrates SKA bid outcome
28 May 2012 - Since the announcement that South Africa, along with its eight SKA partner countries in Africa, will host the entire mid-frequency dish array of the iconic SKA telescope congratulatory messages have been pouring in from around the globe praising the hard work of the South African SKA team and the unwavering support for Africa's site bid from the South African government.

Square Kilometre Array Organisation site decision
25 May 2012 - After nine-years of work by the South African and Australian SKA site bid teams, the independent SKA Site Advisory Committee (SSAC), composed of world-renowned experts, carried out an objective technical and scientific assessment of the sites in South Africa and Australia, and identified by consensus Africa as the preferred site. However, in order to be inclusive, the SKA Organisation has agreed to consider constructing one of the three SKA receiver components in Australia. Two will be constructed in Africa.

Africa is ready to host the SKA - Minister Pandor
29 March 2012 - The process for the allocation of a preferred site to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is reaching its conclusion. The anticipated date for a final decision is the 4th April, although this is likely to be delayed as the members of the SKA Organisation consider the final site decision.

Extra-galactic milestone for South Africa's KAT-7 telescope
14 March 2012 - South Africa's KAT-7 telescope, a seven-dish array which is a precursor to the much larger MeerKAT telescope in the Karoo and to the Square Kilometre Array, has reached another major milestone by observing the radio emission from the neutral hydrogen gas (HI) in a nearby galaxy.

Square Kilometre Array South Africa and IBM plan to explore space using data analytics
7 March 2012 - The Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) today announced it anticipates working with IBM (NYSE: IBM) with the goal of developing a next generation big data analytics platform with self-tuning and self-learning capabilities to better analyze large volumes of radio astronomy data.