Jul 10, 2009
Another radio telescope being established in SABack
© Reuse this
“They were satellite tracking dishes and their control systems have had to be modified to make them suitable for use as radio telescopes. “The first dish is at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), where it is being used to develop control systems. “It is much more convenient to do this prototyping at HartRAO, because it has the necessary workshops and technicians,” explains Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa associate director: science and engineering Professor Justin Jonas. “Eventually, this dish will be used for outreach programmes.”
The second dish is the one that has been set up at Klerefontein and this will be the operational dish. Technical staff from HartRAO gave extensive assistance in the establishment of this dish at its Karoo site.The Klerefontein dish will become opera- tional when it is fitted with its receiver and its recording system.
The receiver is being developed by Oxford University, with support from the University of Manchester (the latter is a world-renowned centre for radio astronomy, operating the famous Jodrell Bank observatory). One of those involved in developing the receiver is a South African, Oliver King, who is an MSc graduate of Rhodes University (a former student of Jonas) and now doing a PhD at Oxford. The recording electronics are being developed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The receiving and recording systems will first be installed on the California dish of C-Bass, and debugged there. “The South African dish should be fully operational by the middle of next year,” reports Jonas.
C-Bass comprises two radio telescopes, one each in the southern and northern hemispheres. Klerefontein is the southern hemisphere dish; the northern hemisphere dish is at the Owens Valley observatory, in California.
The dish for the California telescope was also, effectively, donated to the project, this time by the world-renowned Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) – this dish is a different design to the South African ones. Founded by Caltech in the 1930s, the JPL is today managed by Caltech on behalf of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). JPL’s main mission is to build and operate Nasa’s robotic planetary and interplanetary space probes.
The South African element of C-Bass is managed by another Rhodes MSc graduate, Charles Copley, and falls under SKA South Africa, as does South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope array project. Indeed, Klerefontein is the support base for MeerKAT, and the MeerKAT infra- structure team used their recently acquired mobile cranes to set up the C-Bass dish. SKA South Africa is a business unit of the National Research Foundation, which, in turn, is an agency of the Department of Science and Technology.
Overshadowed by MeerKAT and by the giant international SKA project, C-Bass is still an important programme. It seeks to create a precise map of the galaxy in the C-band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The C-band lies in the microwave section of the spectrum, spanning wavelengths from 3,75 cm to 7,5 cm and frequencies from 8 GHz to 4 GHz (the shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency). C-Bass will measure the total power and linear polarisation (that is, are the radio waves vertical or horizontal relative to the receiver?) of the C-band radiation reaching earth.
This work will also support the analysis of data from the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope, which was launched on May 14.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Recent Research Reports
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
This Week's Magazine
Projected capital expenditure (capex) in the South African automotive assembly industry should reach a record R7.48-billion this year, says the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) in its 2014 fourth quarter business review. Capex...
After several years of navigating project-threatening red tape and currency fluctuations, the 4.4 MW Bronkhorstspruit biogas power plant, which will supply clean energy to a leading automotive manufacturer in Gauteng, is expected to enter production before June....
South African paper and pulp producer Sappi reported earlier this month that it would build a pilot plant for the production of low-cost Cellulose NanoFibrils, or CNF (nanocellulose) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands.
The long-term outlook for Nigeria is a country that has the potential to be very strong. So affirmed International Monetary Fund (IMF) Nigeria Mission Chief and Senior Resident Representative Dr Gene Leon on recently. "But we are starting from a point of huge...
Poor infrastructure planning and inadequate maintenance are becoming increasingly problematic for new developments and the associated infrastructure required to support such developments. In many urban and rural municipalities, the state of infrastructure has been...