Scientific Antennas & Subsystems
Geodesy / VLBI
MeerKAT Radio Telescope
The MeerKAT Radio Telescope array, located in South Africa’s Karoo region, is a technologically advanced radio telescope designed to detect and map radio-frequency signals coming from the furthest reaches of the universe. The MeerKAT array will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere and represents the first significant installation of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) that is scheduled for completion in 2024. We are partnering with Stratosat Datacom (Pty) Ltd. to supply 64 13.5m radio-telescope antennas, ancillary electronic components and support for South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope program.
Designing The MeerKAT Radio TelescopeOn March 27, 2014, the first CPI SAT-built antenna for the MeerKAT radio telescope was launched in South Africa. When completed, the MeerKAT array will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere. A team of CPI SAT employees in the Plano, Texas office directed the project’s engineering and management while employees at our site in Duisburg, Germany, led the structural design efforts for the MeerKAT radio telescope antennas. Each antenna’s reflector structure is specially designed to retain its focus across temperatures that vary from -10°C to +50°C, allowing the structure to expand and contract yet still keep its optical shape. CPI SAT is one of very few companies in the world with the expertise to deliver this technical capability.
Facts About MeerKAT
- Antenna height: 19.5 meters
- Reflector (or dish) diameter: 13.5 meters
- Total weight including base, pedestal and dish: 42 tons (moving section weighs 25 tons)
- It takes about six months to build one MeerKAT antenna from start to finish
- The longest distance between any two antennas (maximum baseline) is 8 km
- Once all 64 MeerKAT antennas are operational, the instrument will be sensitive enough to pick up a cell phone signal from Saturn
- Leading radio astronomy teams around the globe have already signed up to use the instrument as soon as it is ready