SKA spurs MeerKAT development

2012-05-28 22:05
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 - South Africa is focused on building radio telescopes in the Karoo after the country won the right to host the larger share of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

The SKA Organisation awarded SA a larger share of the massive science project that aims to link thousands of radio telescopes across Africa and Australia. The instrument will allow astronomers to look about 12 billion years back in time.

Scientists were ecstatic that the project, which received backing from the department of science and technology, was coming to the country.

"Up to now the SKA project could not really move forward. At last we can now move into the really exciting phase - the detailed design and building of the SKA," said Professor Justin Jonas, associate director of Science and Engineering, SKA South Africa.

The decision allows engineers to move forward to accelerate development of the MeerKAT (Karoo Array Telescope), initially designed as a test bed for the SKA, but has become an instrument in its own right. It will comprise 64 antennas and is scheduled for completion in 2016.


Jonas said that the MeerKAT was key for development 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 said.

Construction of the SKA Phase I will commence when the MeerKAT is complete in 2016.

Companies are already on standby for MeerKAT construction and the project office said that plans are at an advanced stage to roll out an industrial-level production process to produce the radio telescopes.

"Part of qualification is also to qualify your manufacturing processes. We don't know at this stage which antennas we're going to build: It might be the composite antennas; it might be another antenna, we've gone out on tender and it's the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] that prescribes our contracting model to us," MeerKAT project manager Willem Esterhuyse told News24.

He added that the office had evaluated companies and that MeerKAT should progress well.

"We've already got a pretty good idea on the technical abilities of various companies; we've got an idea of what sort of schedules they can make and whether they can meet our budget," said Esterhuyse.


"We are fairly confident that they can meet our schedule's timelines and they might actually, with a bit of luck, be able to pull that in a little bit," he added.

The MeerKAT radio dishes have been designed to align with the requirements of the SKA, and engineers are engaged in pushing the boundaries of the technology that will be required to produce the instrument.

"We are actively engaged in pushing technological limits and on KAT 7 we did that more than maybe we would do on MeerKAT. On MeerKAT you've got to go with essentially mature technologies in terms of computing and storage, for example," Esterhuyse said.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    kimberley  |  astronomy  |  ska

Read News24’s Comments Policy 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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


DA wants to empower fishing communities - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille says the party has a plan for harbours and small-scale fishing communities.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop 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

BlackBerry Curve 8520

Wi-Fi enabled With the BlackBerry Curve 8520 connect to your home...

From R1100.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

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


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 network.


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.