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March 2014
In this issue
MeerKAT infrastructure
MeerKAT's components
Testing, testing, 1-2-3 ...
Super science in the pipeline
Future science with MeerKAT
Meeting calibration challenges
AVN is taking shape
SA playing key role in SKA
C-BASS is ready
UKZN researchers join PAPER
SKA science conference
Public talk on pulsars
African focus at 2014 AAS
Training young astronomers
What to do with big data?
SKA SA student conference
Eclipse workshops in Gabon
FET Bursars
New maths & science teachers
New trainee technician
Carnarvon technology access
Collaboration with ESO
BRICS delegation at SKA SA
Profile: Dr George Nicolson
From Antarctica to SA
Supercomputer simulations
Free State astrophysicist
Three SKA-related PHDs
Profile: Dr Modhurita Mitra
'Sensible metrics' for dishes
C-BASS ready to hit the high notes



Members of the Oxford team who helped build the receiver visited South Africa early in 2014 for a planning session ahead of the move: (fltr) Dr Charles Copley (SKA SA); Dr Angela Taylor (Oxford University); Prof Mike Jones (Oxford University) and Luke Jew (Oxford University).
   

C-Bass is a collaborative project between the Universities of Oxford and Manchester in the UK, the California Institute of Technology in the USA, the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory through the SKA South Africa project, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal also recently joined the efforts to install the southern telescope.
While the receiver and software of the Southern C-Band All Sky Survey (C-BASS) telescope are being put through final tests at Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), planning is getting under way to install the receiver at Klerefontein in the Karoo later this year.

An identical 7.6 m dish to that at HartRAO has been waiting in the Karoo, where it was installed by South African C-BASS team member Dr Charles Copley and a team from HARTRAO and SKA SA.

Copley, who helped build the southern receiver while doing his PhD in physics at Oxford University, is very pleased with its performance since being commissioned. "Just another month or two of soak testing, and we will be satisfied that we can start the move and that there are no unanticipated bugs left," he says.

He thanked members of the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who recently joined the C-BASS initiative, for their help during the commissioning phase. Contributions made by other visiting collaborators from Oxford, Manchester and Caltech have resulted in a dramatically improved system performance. Specific mention was made of the superb technical support from HartRAO (led by Pieter Stronkhorst) as well as the antenna and site support at Klerefontein (Sky Seranyane and Dawie Fourie).

The telescope at Klerefontein (C-BASS South) will eventually be used together with its twin at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory in California (C-BASS North - photo left) to map the brightness and orientation of radio waves (polarisation) of the whole radio sky at 5 GHz, corresponding to a wavelength of 6 cm. The project will greatly improve measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background, the oldest light in the universe.

The Northern C-Bass dish in California is already operational, and is almost finished mapping the polarisation and the brightness of the northern hemisphere's radio sky.

By Engela Duvenage