The MeerKAT array, currently taking shape in South Africa's Karoo region, is a world-class radio telescope designed to do ground-breaking science. It will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere until the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is completed around 2024. Via MeerKAT, South Africa is playing a key role in design and technology developments for the SKA.
Close to 100 young scientists and engineers are working on the MeerKAT project. Based at the engineering office in Cape Town, and at universities and technology companies across South Africa and Africa, these researchers interact closely with SKA teams around the world. In collaboration with South African industry and universities, and collaborating with global institutions, the South African team has developed technologies and systems for the MeerKAT telescope, including innovative composite telescope dishes and cutting-edge signal processing hardware and algorithms.
MeerKAT - now an integral part of the SKA
Prof Justin Jonas, Associate Director: Science and Engineering at SKA South Africa, is very excited about the implications of the SKA site decision for the role that South Africa's MeerKAT telescope will play in the future of the SKA. "The decision recognises MeerKAT as a key instrument that will make up one quarter of SKA Phase 1 mid-frequency array, and the science planned for SKA Phase 1 is very similar to the MeerKAT science case - just much more ambitious," he explains. "Our researchers and students who participate in the MeerKAT surveys have a huge advantage. They are well placed to enter SKA Phase 1. They have the opportunity to become science leaders in future SKA projects."
Up to 2016 South Africa will be constructing the 64 MeerKAT dishes in the Karoo and construction on 190 SKA Phase 1 dishes should start more or less when MeerKAT is complete. "The design of the SKA dishes is not yet final, but they should look similar to the Gregorian-offset dish design chosen for MeerKAT," Prof Jonas expects.
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MeerKAT science and specifications
Questions and answers about MeerKAT and the SKA
MeerKAT drawings and images