SKA: German investment a ‘vote of confidence’

2014-12-02 16:46

The South African MeerKAT radio telescope project has received a R150 million investment from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.

“This significant investment by a leading global research organisation of prestigious repute, home to several Nobel Prize winners, was an important vote of confidence in South African science in general and the MeerKAT specifically,” Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said today.

She said the MeerKAT was already acclaimed internationally as a world-class instrument. The partnership with the Max Planck institute the telescope’s ability to perform transformational science for the benefit of global knowledge production would be considerably boosted.

The Max Planck Society (MPG) would use the money to build and install radio receivers on the MeerKAT. The receivers would operate in the S band of radio frequencies. They would be used primarily for research on pulsars, the rapid spinning neutron stars which emit regular radio pulses and so can be used as highly accurate clocks to test extreme physics.

Two other sets of receivers, for the L band and ULF band of frequencies, were already under construction in South Africa.

“We consider MeerKAT to be an important undertaking as it is not only a pre-eminent astronomy project, but also a light-house project for science in Africa in general,” MPG president Martin Stratmann said in the statement.

The MPG’s scientists would collaborate with their South African counterparts on the project.

Stratmann said he looked forward to seeing the MeerKAT’s first glimpse of the universe with the receivers.

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