Astronomers plan next SKA move

2012-07-09 10:35
A model of the revised MeerKAT dish which is closely aligned to the SKA requirements is seen at the project office in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A model of the revised MeerKAT dish which is closely aligned to the SKA requirements is seen at the project office in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Astronomers have gathered to map the way forward in the first collective meeting after South Africa was granted the majority share of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

"It was a historic gathering of astronomers in this astronomy town hall format meeting. It was an opportunity for astronomers to talk among themselves," Professor Nithaya Chetty Group Executive of Astronomy at the National Research Foundation (NRF) told News24.

The meeting at the University of Pretoria which began on Sunday will focus astronomers on plans to use the massive science project that aims to link thousands of radio telescopes centred in the Karoo to drive science development in SA.

"With this being the first substantial gathering of astronomers, you can imagine that the SKA loomed very large in discussions yesterday," Chetty said.

The gathering was attended by department of science and technology (DST) as well as NRF officials and Chetty said that SA was focused on astronomy.

Skilled professionals

"Astronomy is an extremely strategic scientific endeavour in South Africa; we have a geographical advantage in doing this type of science in South Africa. It means we have a real opportunity of leading the world and we are already doing that in many respects."

The SKA project will demand a high number of skilled professionals in engineering, astronomy, mathematics and computer science as the country races to deliver the €1.5bn project, due for completion by 2024.

Chetty said that such a project will spur development of technical skills and this could have a further benefit to the economy.

"But astronomy is also a means for development in many different facets related to astronomy - whether it's human capacity development - we have scientific projects that students can work on that are current and exciting and potential level prize winning types of research programmes," he said.

Formerly disadvantage students would specifically be targeted as part of transforming astronomy in SA.

"Within in this context we are driving our transformation agenda of trying to excite a new generation of particularly black South African and African students into science and astronomy is just an exciting vehicle for achieving this," Chetty said.

One of the innovations related to the SKA project has been the development of the Raoch (Reconfigurable Open Architecture Computing Hardware) board.

Science development

In comparison to an ordinary computer motherboard which has around 700 - 800 components, the Roach board has 1 414 components, some which are quite expensive because of the specialised functions they are required to perform.

It is critical to the precursor to the SKA - the MeerKAT (Karoo Array Telescope) - because it allows high speed processing of digital data and could be used in fields beyond astronomy.

"It's got very high speed networks and could be used in telecommunications," Roach lead designer David George said in late 2011.

The DST has been pushing the science development among young people and building awareness of the SKA project.

On Monday, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor will hand over prizes to the schools that won the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)-MeerKat Schools Competition.

Chetty said that with a project of the scale of the SKA, one could leverage innovation development in multiple areas.

"Around astronomy of course there all sorts of engineering and technical innovations, including software development and this becomes a really fantastic vehicle for driving those developments as well."


- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Here's a YouTube video where Dr Tim O'Brien explains the science of radio astronomy and its window on the invisible Universe:


- News24
Read more on:    nrf  |  kimberley  |  astronomy  |  good news  |  ska
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Printable solar panels will bring exciting new opportunities!

Printed sheets of flexible solar cells can mean your electronic devices can soon be charged with the use of renewable energy.

 
 

For chic geeks...

Now there’s a special lane for texting while walking
LOL! 7 brutally honest texts from parents
This lock means keys are something of the past!
7 things you didn't know about Apple

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

30% off new fiction books!

Save 30% on new captivating books from great authors such as Wilbur Smith, James Pettereson and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

Camping gear!

We’ve got all your camping must have’s right here at mind blowing low prices. Check them out now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

As the Moon moves out of restless Gemini into sensitive Cancer today you are able to relax your active mind and be more receptive...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.