South Africa will host the mid-frequency array of the SKA telescope, also called the dish array. The semi-desert Karoo region provides indeed the perfect radio quiet backdrop for hosting the hundreds of dishes that will eventually form the SKA-mid telescope.
Artist impression of the SKA dishes on the South African SKA site.
In a few years time, South Africa should not be alone in hosting components for the SKA in Africa. In a second phase of the SKA project, eight partner countries around the African continent should also have radio telescopes contributing to the network that will provide scientists with the world’s most advanced radio astronomy array in the mid-/high-frequency range of the radio regime. These countries include Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
South Africa is already host to the MeerKAT telescope array, a 64-dish system which will will be integrated into the SKA. MeerKAT was inaugurated by the South African Deputy President in July 2018 and has started to deliver world-class science.
An infographic of SKA1-mid, the first phase of the SKA’s mid-frequency instrument.
SKA1-mid, the first phase of the SKA mid-frequency array, will conduct observations in many exciting areas of science, such as gravitational waves, pulsars, and will search for signatures of life in the galaxy. It will provide a jump in capability, providing 4 times more resolution and 5 times more sensitivity than the JVLA, the current best telescope as similar frequencies. Additionally, it will be able to map the sky 60 times faster.