Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Saturday visit the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape.
Deputy President Ramaphosa will be supported by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas and other Ministers of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission.
The visit by the Deputy President will showcase the development of the MeerKAT as the world’s biggest and most sensitive radio telescope.
South Africa is currently building the 64-dish MeerKAT. Upon completion in 2017, the MeerKAT will be the largest radio telescope in the world and most sensitive radio telescope of its kind.
During his visit, Deputy President Ramaphosa will also have an opportunity to interact with members of the community from surrounding areas of the SKA site.
The SKA is one of the strategic investment led by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC). Infrastructure investment is a key priority of both the National Development Plan and the New Growth Path.
South African scientists, engineers and companies are playing a leading role in the international consortia that is designing the SKA.
The first dishes of the MeerKAT telescope have been erected in the Karoo and are performing to specification. It is expected to bring more than R30 billion into the country, which will benefit ordinary people, particularly in one of South Africa’s most rural and underdeveloped provinces.
Through the establishment of the Meerkat/SKA infrastructure, which supports the integration of African economies, a number of ambassadors will be in the country to attend the event and experience the world class project.
The Department of Science and Technology will use the visit to showcase the establishment of the MeerKAT, along with the on-site facilities.
MeerKAT is located at what will be the future core of the international SKA radio telescope. MeerKATis being implemented (design and construction) by SKA South Africa, a business unit of the National Research Foundation, and is funded by government.
When MeerKAT is completed in 2017, it will consist of 64 antennas and will be the most sensitive cm-wavelength radio telescope in the world until the construction of the SKA Phase 1 facility in 2023.
The international SKA Organisation has recognised MeerKAT as an SKA precursor and it will be integrated with the SKA Phase 1 telescope once that telescope is completed.
The first dishes of the MeerKAT telescope have been erected in the Karoo and initial tests indicate that they are performing to or beyond the original specifications.
Local and international radio astronomy communities have already recognised the MeerKAT as a future world class scientific facility and excellent instrument.
Over 350 radio astronomers (58 in Africa) from 22 different countries submitted scientific proposals to use MeerKAT. The first five years of its operational life have already been allocated to 10 international teams. African scientists are represented in a majority of these teams.
The SKA will collect and process vast amounts of data and will stimulate cutting-edge advances in high-performance computing and Big Data – especially the processing, analysis and visualisation of very large data sets.

News Reporter