HUNDREDS of scientists have already signed up to conduct groundbreaking research with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope.
“We are building something truly significant that attracts massive international attention,” said Justin Jonas, associate director of science and engineering for SKA SA.
The MeerKAT is designed as a precursor to the SKA, the world’s most powerful radio telescope. The SKA, or Square Kilometre Array, will be built across Southern Africa (South Africa and 8 other countries) or Australia and New Zealand.
The MeerKAT will have 64 satellite dishes.
MeerKAT’s support, however, extends far beyond half the globe – 360 scientists from 121 institutions are set to conduct research on MeerKAT.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said SKA SA project director Bernie Fanaroff.
“At the beginning it was difficult to generate interest in MeerKAT. People were still negative about Africa’s capabilities in the astronomy field. But in 2010, we had proposals from 500 scientists.”
Jonas said that the largest number of proposals came from the UK, SA, the US and Australia. The scientists chosen are planning a wide range of projects that include testing Einstein’s theory of gravitation, a deep survey of neutral hydrogen gas in the early universe, and an investigation of dark matter.
MeerKAT’s location in the Karoo is already host to seven precursor dishes, called the KAT-7.
Coordination is provided by ISC Intelligence in Science as one of the initiators of AERAP, together with the South African Mission to the EU.
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