© 2019 by Gerrit Louw

KAROO ARRAY TELESCOPE

One of the biggest events in the history of Carnarvon is taking place at this very date and time! The first phase of the MeerKAT Karoo Array Telescope has been completed and the construction of the second phase will kick off in the middle of 2011.

The first phase involved the completion of the basic infrastructure, such as the upgrading of the road from the R63 to the site where the radio telescope will be constructed, the restoration and adaptation of the buildings on the Klerefontein Agricultural Research Station and the construction of a factory to build and assemble the giant receiver dishes.  In the initial stages, electricity was generated with diesel engines; but by the end of September 2010 a new ESKOM power line was completed.  The power line serves a dual purpose, as it includes an optic fiber telecommunication cable to carry the massive amount of data which the radio telescope will generate.

As part of the first stage of MeerKAT, seven 12-meter dishes were erected.  

In addition to the main MeerKAT telescopes, other telescopes are also being installed in our Karoo Astronomy Reserve.  

These include the single dish C-BASS telescope has been disassembled at Hartebeeshoek and re-assembled  on a Karoo hill at Klerefontein for the C-BASS survey.  The purpose of C-BASS is to do a survey of the radio waves which are generated by objects nearer to Earth, such as satellites; in order to adapt computer programs to distinguish between the undesirable radio waves and those originating from outer space.

Another telescope that installed near the core sight is the.  The PAPER telescope is a low frequency telescope to detect and image the formation of the first stars, 12 billion years ago

As can be seen in the gallery below, the homestead of the Latsky family who owned the farm Klerefontein, was beautifully restored to serve as the Karoo Support Bases for admin and support functions of the various telescopes to be installed in the Karoo Astronomy Reserve.

Presently, the seven MeerKAT Precursor antennae are being tested and adapted to increase their efficiency.  The second phase of MeerKAT will involve the building of a bigger factory, more roads on the site itself and the erection of another array of sixty four antennae, as well as a large computer centre to process and store the large amounts of data from the MeerKAT telescope before it is send to Cape Town via the optic fibre line.  A large power facility as backup to the ESKOM supply will be built to power the MeerKAT telescope.