Germany to invest in SA’s MeerKAT radio telescope
December 2, 2014 Editor
Germany’s Max-Planck-Society (MPG) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPlfR) are investing €11-million (about R150-million) into South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope array programme. The money will be used to design, build and install S-band radio wave receivers on MeerKAT’s dishes. (The S-band covers radio frequencies between 2 GHz and 4 GHz.)
The MeerKAT, when finished, will be composed of 64 dishes, each with an effective diameter of 13.5 m. Each dish will be fitted with a carousel able to accommodate multiple receivers. Each dish will now be fitted with three receivers – two South African, the other German, and each dish will have room for more, in the future.
The German receivers will be mainly used to study pulsars. These are rapidly spinning neutron stars which emit incredibly regular radio pulses. They can thus be used as very accurate clocks to test extreme physics. The South African receivers will operate in the L-band (1 GHz to 2 Ghz) and in the ULF-band (ultra low frequency: 0.01 Hz to 3 Hz).
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