Royal Astronomical Society awards MeerKAT telescope team
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory said the MeerKAT team has supported the development of science and technology in Africa.
The MeerKAT telescope in the Karoo. Since its inauguration in 2018, the 64 dish array has been used to investigate a variety of questions in modern astrophysics such as how galaxies form and evolve across cosmic history. Photo: SARAO.
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) has awarded its 2023 Group Achievement Award to the MeerKAT team.
The MeerKAT telescope is an array of 64 interlinked receptors situated 90km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon.
It is a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope and will be integrated into the mid-frequency component of SKA Phase 1.
In its citation, the RAS recognised the MeerKAT team “for a series of spectacular observations in radio astronomy, the highlight being the images of the Galactic Centre region and the spectacular radio bubbles”.
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (SARAO) Khulu Phasiwe said the MeerKAT team has supported the development of science and technology in Africa and stress-tested technology for the SKA.
“The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory expresses gratitude to the RAS for the generous recognition of the technical and scientific achievement associated with this Group Achievement Award.”
“The MeerKAT project derived from the aspiration to have a South African SKA precursor telescope that would be a powerful instrument in its own right. This award is accepted with pride because it confirms the successful rendition of this aspiration into physical reality on African soil,” he said.
Phasiwe said the greater MeerKAT team extends beyond SARAO, as indicated by the diversity of institutions recognised through the award.
“Colleagues and partner institutions from around the world have expressed their confidence in MeerKAT by providing instrumentation, software and know-how to enhance the telescope capabilities, and in turn the scientific exploitation of the telescope capabilities has involved collegial international partnerships.”
“Looking to the future, the success of MeerKAT demonstrates that the scientific and technological prerequisites for the SKA telescope in South Africa are in place. We are excited by the scientific opportunities and discoveries that will derive from the progression from MeerKAT to SKA-Mid, via the extension project currently underway,” he said.