A call for MeerKAT observing proposals by SKA South Africa in 2009 resulted in 10 Large Survey Projects (LSPs, defined to require more than 1000 hours of telescope time over 5 years) being approved in 2010. In 2016, with MeerKAT in an advanced state of construction (and substantially different from the telescope planned in 2009), and with the natural evolution in some of the key questions in astrophysics that MeerKAT LSPs seek to address, SKA South Africa requested revised project plans from eight LSPs:
- LADUMA: Looking at the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array
- MALS: The MeerKAT Absorption Line Survey
- MeerKAT Fornax Survey
- MeerTime: The MeerKAT Key Science Project on Pulsar Timing
- MHONGOOSE: MeerKAT HI Observations of Nearby Galactic Objects: Observing Southern Emitters
- MIGHTEE: The MeerKAT International GHz Tuned Extragalactic Exploration Survey
- ThunderKAT: The Hunt for Dynamic and Explosive Radio Transients with MeerKAT
- TRAPUM: Transients and Pulsars with MeerKAT
The two remaining LSPs (MESMER and MeerGAL) were not required to submit revised plans since they primarily require X-band receivers, which are not currently planned.
The eight MeerKAT LSP revised project plans were reviewed in a multi-step process that resulted in a report from a review panel chaired by Dale Frail of NRAO. The recommendations of this panel resulted in the SKA South Africa Managing Director selecting in July 2017 the following rank-ordered list of approved MeerKAT Large Survey Projects and components.
Rank-ordered list of approved MeerKAT Large Survey Projects and components
- MeerTime (binary)
- MeerTime (MSPs)
- TRAPUM (Fermi sources)
- MeerTime (1000 PTA)
- ThunderKAT (CVs)
- MIGHTEE (L band)
- ThunderKAT (GRBs)
- MeerTime (GCs)
- MALS (UHF and L band)
- TRAPUM (nearby galaxies)
- TRAPUM (GCs)
- TRAPUM (SNR, PWN, TeV)
- ThunderKAT (SNe Ia)
- MIGHTEE (S band)
- ThunderKAT (XRBs)
LSPs will be allocated 2/3 of the MeerKAT science time to be scheduled for projects selected through competed calls. SKA South Africa will endeavor to schedule as much of the requested telescope time as was recommended by the review panel to achieve the primary science goals for each of the approved LSP components, guided by the above rankings and other relevant constraints (e.g., LST and night time requirements, availability of specific telescope capabilities, results of commissioning observations).
While specific time allocations have not yet been made, the above rank-ordered list represents the MeerKAT LSP approved program of record and it is expected that a very substantial share of the overall required observing time will be scheduled, starting in 2018.