World’s Largest Telescope Unveiled by South Africa

Federico Mansilla
Julio 16, 2018

The SKA which is expected to be running by 2030 will comprise a forest of 3,000 dishes spread over an area of a square kilometre across remote terrain in several African countries and Australia.

On July 13, officials in South Africa unveiled the 64-dish MeerKAT super radio telescope, the first phase of what could be the largest telescope in the world.

This story was reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

MeerKAT is next to KAT 7 (Karoo Array Telescope), built in the vast semi-desert Karoo region north of Cape Town to demonstrate South Africa's ability to host the SKA.

Africa's most advanced telescope Meerkat was launched in Carnavon, Northern Cape Province on Friday, allowing scientists to better explore the universe.

The merger of the two telescopes is slated for sometime around 2023.

"MeerKAT will address some of the key science questions in modern astrophysics - how did galaxies form, how are they evolving, how did we come to be here. and for those purposes MeerKAT is the best in the world", Fernando Camilo said.

SKA SA Managing Director, Rob Adam, said: "We have electricians being trained, boilermakers, fitters and turners and people splashing the fibre that carries the signal from the satellites through the computers, that fibre is being splashed by people from the local community".

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Built at a cost of 4.4 billion rand (23 billion INR).

He said Meerkat radio telescope reveals the clearest view yet of the centre of the Milky Way, satisfying one of the curiosity of investing in this technology, in a video stream monitored by the Ghana News Agency.

The centre of the Milky Way, 25,000 light-years away from Earth and lying behind the constellation Sagittarius (the "Teapot"), is forever enshrouded by intervening clouds of gas and dust, making it invisible from Earth using ordinary telescopes.

Commenting on the photo, Camilo pointed out that the exercise was meant to show the world what MeerKAT's science capabilities really are.

"The centre of the galaxy was an obvious target: unique, visually striking and full of unexplained phenomena - but also notoriously hard to image using radio telescopes".

"Although it's early days with MeerKAT and a lot remains to be optimised‚ we chose to go for it and were stunned by the results‚" he said.

"This image is remarkable", says Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, an expert on the filaments.

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