17 May 2017

South Africa: SKA SA Bags Yet Another Milestone

Photo: SKA Africa
MeerKAT in the Northern Cape provides a magnificent view of the hydrogen gas in M83, a famous galaxy discovered in Cape Town in 1752.

Pretoria — The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) SA team has presented the first Array Release (AR) 1.5 images taken with MeerKAT 32, to Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.

Minister Pandor on Tuesday toured an exhibition at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town, where SKA SA joined other exhibitors for a showcase. The Minister visited the exhibition prior to delivering her department's 2017 Budget Vote Speech in Parliament.

During the Minister's visit to the exhibition, SKA SA Chief Scientist Dr Fernando Camilo and SKA SA Head of Science Commissioning Dr Sharmila Goedhart released to the Minister the recent AR1.5 results, images achieved by using various configurations of the 32 antennas currently operational in the Karoo, where the SKA is situated.

This milestone of the integration of 32 antennas with a single polarisation correlator was achieved on schedule by the end of March 2017.

The 32 antennas are part of the eventual 64 instruments that are being built at the Losberg site in the Northern Cape.

In her Budget Vote Speech, Minister Pandor announced that the Research Development and Support Programme will transfer R693 million to the National Research Foundation to ensure the completion of MeerKAT as a key priority for 2017/18.

"The SKA will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Key economic benefits from this investment will be the leveraging of foreign direct investment from the SKA Organisation for constructions costs of Phase 1 of the SKA," Minister Pandor said.

The theme for this year's budget vote is 'The Oliver Tambo Legacy: Positioning the national system of innovation for the future'.

"Government announced the celebration of OR Tambo this year, as it would have been his centenary had he lived. OR Tambo wasn't just a luminary of our struggle for freedom. He was also an outstanding mathematics and science teacher," said Minister Pandor.

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