The 64-dish MeerKAT telescope is expanding by 20 dishes at a cost of R800 million. This telescope has already proven to be worth its incredible cost, with multiple researchers using it and this expansion, will only increase its capabilities.
Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande presented this spending allocation to a virtual sitting of the National Assembly.
“To extend its research area reach, the MeerKAT is to be expanded by 20 dishes at a cost of R800 million. The expansion will be a partnership between South Africa, Germany and China,” he said according to BusinessTech.
“The MeerKAT will further be integrated into SKA Phase one (2019-2024) with an additional 133 antennas in the Karoo up to 80km baseline from the core to make it a 197-dish array mid-frequency telescope.”
South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope has been used to aid multiple discoveries and provide a deeper look into our universe. In 2019, it assisted researchers in spotting balloon-like structures that tower hundreds of light-years above and below the centre of the galaxy.
— Planet (@planetlabs) July 14, 2018
Through this telescope, South Africa is also part of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) project. This project converts redundant telecommunications antennae in Africa into radio telescopes.
This project includes many of the country’s neighbours including: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar and Mauritius.