SARAH WILD: SA’s astronomy centres to become one constellation
The Square Kilometre Array project in SA will form the backbone of a national radio astronomy observatory, writes Sarah Wild
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in SA employs 245 people and oversees a budget of billions of rand. From April, it will also form the backbone of a national radio astronomy observatory, absorbing existing facilities into a single entity. SA’s bid to host the world’s largest radio telescope developed several areas of radio astronomy in the country and on the continent, from the seven-dish Karoo Array Telescope and the 64-dish MeerKAT to the African VLBI Network, which will include radio dishes in a number of African countries. These will be incorporated into the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), as will the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), the stalwart of South African radio astronomy and a major driver of the country’s successful SKA bid. This follows a longer-term trend to consolidate science programmes: the South African National Space Agency pulled together areas of expertise and facilities, as did the Technology Innovation Agency. "...