MeerKAT - Kat-7
One of the biggest projects in the Karoo and possibly on the continent is the KAT-7. The Karoo Array Telescope (KAT) is a precursor instrument for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which is in its own rights amongst the largest and most powerful telescopes in the world. The SKA South Africa Project has purchased 14 000 hectares around the Losberg Farm for the SKA and MeerKAT and is proposed to be a a R15-billion astronomy project.
The first stage of the project was completed in 2010 and included the completion of the basic infrastructure such as roads to the site, the restoration and adaptation of the buildings on the Klerefontein Agricultural Research Station and the construction of a factory to build and assemble the giant receiver dishes. September 2010 saw the power line from Eskom “go live” with a fiber optic telecommunications core which will be used to carry the massive amounts of data which the radio telescope will generate. Seven 12-metre dishes were erected which are known as the KAT-7 and are currently being used as a test bed for the sixty four Gregorian offset dishes will make up the MeerKAT.
The second phase of MeerKAT involve the building of a bigger factory, more roads on the site itself and the erection of sixty four Gregorian offset dishes, a large computer centre to process and store the data from the MeerKAT telescope before it is send to Cape Town via the optic fibre line, as well as a large power facility which will operate as a backup to the Eskom supply to power the satellite. The construction of this phase will start in the middle of 2011.
MeerKAT will be used for research into cosmic magnetism, galactic evolution, the large-scale structure of the cosmos, dark matter and the nature of transient radio sources. And it will be also be a technology demonstrator for South Africas bid to host the Square Kilometer Array. Currently the bid to host the SKA is against Australia. Scientists are now comparing the radio interference at both sites, as well as the cost of building and operating the telescope in Africa compared to Australia and hope to come to a decision on where to site the SKA will be taken in 2012. The budget for building the SKA is €1.5 billion and it will cost about €150 million per year to operate. The SKA will be built and funded by a consortium, which currently consists of sixteen countries. The African Union Heads of State have given their full support to the African bid. Five years before South Africas MeerKAT telescope become operational, more than 43 000 hours of observing time have already been allocated to radio astronomers from Africa and around the world, who have applied for time to do research with this unique and world-leading instrument.
For more information on MeerKAT and the SKA please contact:
, Victoria West
, Three Sisters
, Beaufort West
Nearby Points Of Interest:Appie van Heerden Nature Reserve
, Skietfontein hiking trail
, The Historic Houses trail – Carnarvon
, The Carnarvon Museum
, San Rock Engravings - Klein Springbokoog
, Williston Museum
, Williston Dutch Reformed Church
, Williston Tombstone Route
, Corbel houses
, The Old Vicarage Museum
, The Pepperpot
, The Apollo Film Festival