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First antenna installed at new South African radio telescope

South Africa's new radio telescope in the Karoo has reached an important milestone with the installation of the first telescope dish near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape Province.

On Friday 17 July 2009, the construction team worked into the night to lift the first dish into position. This first antenna is part of KAT-7, a seven-dish prototype interferometer array. The construction and commissioning of the full MeerKAT array (consisting of 80 dishes) will follow at the same site. A high speed data network will link the telescope site in the Karoo to the control centre in Cape Town. The telescope will be commissioned in 2013. MeerKAT is an important precursor instrument to the much larger Square Kilometre Array (SKA) that will consist of about 3 000 antennas. South Africa is currently in a race against Australia to be selected as the preferred site for the SKA. A final decision on the SKA host country is expected in 2012. The SKA is one of the projects included in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastrucutres (ESFRI) Roadmap. The MeerKAT will offer important new partnership opportunitiesf for South African and European radio astronomers to deepen their existing cooperation. Further information at: http://www.ska.ac.za

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Research Infrastructure

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South Africa