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May/June 2011
In this issue
SA's science minister welcomes new commitment towards building the SKA
African astronomy strides ahead at MEARIM II gathering
African Telescope Array on the cards
New radio telescope planned for Mozambique
MeerKAT science takes off
Successful ThunderKAT
IAU Global Office of Astronomy for Development launched in SA
New Research Chairs give extra momentum to skills development for SKA South Africa
More international science experiments blossoming in the Karoo
Cutting-edge MeerKAT control room now operational
Reader's Cambridge sabbatical links to SKA
phase 1
Focus on women in physics
Blog along with the barefoot astronomer

More international science experiments blossoming in the Karoo

The Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Re-ionisation (PAPER) project at South Africa's Karoo astronomy site will soon consist of 64 antennae. A further 26 antennae - being shipped from West Virginia - will arrive at Cape Town harbour during the first week of June 2011 and will then be deployed on site.

PAPER antenna
William Walbrugh (junior project manager for PAPER and C-BASS)

When the PAPER science team arrives in South Africa later in June 2011, local technical interns will assist them with the assembly of the antennae, ground reflectors and electronic components. Commissioning of the 64-antenna array is tentatively scheduled for the end of June.

An immediate challenge faced by the project is to provide grid power to the PAPER site through a safe and reliable, yet cost-effective design. The use of an intermediate voltage system (3.3 kV) is investigated here, which can also act as a prototype for similar systems that might prove useful to some of the long baseline antennae of MeerKAT. Together with this, a fibre optic link will be installed to the nearest KAT-7 infrastructure about 2 km away from the site.

C-BASS antenna structure
An aerial view of the PAPER experiment

Another international partnership project in the Karoo is the C-Band All Sky Survey South (C-BASS South) telescope, with its counterpart based at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory in the USA. While the antenna structure for C-BASS is already in place in the Karoo, the receiver is currently being developed at Oxford University by a South African PhD student Charles Copley, with assistance from the University of Manchester. Once the receiver arrives in South Africa, it will be tested at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO). Following that, the receiver, with all its ancillary components, will be consigned to the C-BASS site at Klerefontein in the Karoo where it can take full advantage of the radio silence and low cloud percentage. The deployment of C-BASS is expected to occur as soon as August/September 2011.