Jul 10, 2009
Another radio telescope being established in SABack
Engineering|Oxford|Africa|Education|Jet Propulsion Laboratory|Jodrell Bank|PROJECT|SKA South Africa|System|Systems|Telkom|Africa|South Africa|Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory|Owens Valley Observatory|Control Systems|Electronics|Satellite Tracking Dishes|Systems|Telecommunications Giant|Sky|Northern Cape|Owens Valley|Charles Copley|Justin Jonas|Oliver King|Power|California|Radio Astronomy Observatory|Microwave
© 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
Updated 7 hours ago While the global economy continues to battle growth headwinds as it slowly emerges from a lingering post-recessionary phase, the greatest inhibitors to South African economic development are largely domestic and within government’s control, Finance Minister...
Updated 7 hours ago Building materials firm Infrasors said on Friday that FD Marius Potgieter, who had occupied the position since July 1, 2009, had tendered his resignation and would leave the company with immediate effect. Construction supplies manufacturer Afrimat FD and Infrasors...
Updated 7 hours ago Telecommunications group Telkom on Friday announced that, following extensive facilitated consultations and deliberations, management and organised labour had reached consensus that the company’s current restructuring process would proceed. “The parties have...
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Steel 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the steel industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the global and South African steel and stainless steel markets, South Africa’s major steel producers and events that have shaped these markets.
This Week's Magazine
South African construction company Group Five says work on the rehabilitation of the 800 km stretch of the Plumtree–Mutare highway, in Zimbabwe, should be completed by the end of this year. Giving evidence before the Parliamentary Porfolio Committee on Transport...
The Space Operations division of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) revealed on July 17 that it had supported the successful launch of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite on July 2. The...
Phase 1A of Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system should carry around 42 000 people a day, while it was been expected that Phase 1B, rolled out last year, would add another 60 000 daily passengers. However, the entire system is currently carrying...
A stormwater project in Bedforview, east of Johannesburg, has stalled for eight months after project managers in the Ekurhuleni municipality resigned and municipal managers were placed on special leave without designating replacements. Construction to reinforce the...
The design of the Beit Bridge border post is the biggest impediment to efficient freight movement between Zimbabwe and South Africa, says Cross-border Road Transport Agency CEO Sipho Khumalo. Beit Bridge is the busiest border post in Africa. A research study on the...