About MeerKAT

About the German contribution to the SKA precursor in South Africa

MeerKAT antennaMeerKAT array view
MeerKAT antenna (left) and MeerKAT configuration (Credit: SKA South Africa)

MeerKAT is an array of 64, 13.5-metre diameter, parabolic dishes connected together as an interferometer and is operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). MeerKAT is built in South Africa's Karoo desert and is currently the most powerful radio interferometer at centimeter wavelengths. MeerKAT complements other astronomical infrastructure in the Southern hemisphere, such as, the ALMA and future telescopes like the E-ELT and the CTA. MeerKAT antennas are equipped with receivers in the L- and UHF-bands. Commissioning observations began in 2016 (MeerKAT First Light) and since the summer of 2018, MeerKAT started its full operation. This is a significant step forward in developing infrastructure, software and knowledge-base for the upcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

MeerKAT is primarily designed to be a fast survey instrument, and is currently equipped with L-Band receivers that are sensitive to the frequency range 900 to 1670 MHz, and UHF-Band receivers covering the 500 to 1015 MHz frequency range. With a maximum of 8-kilometre baseline, MeerKAT will provide detailed images of the distant Universe with spectacular sensitivity at its frequencies of operation. MeerKAT science is organised into survey projects wherein German scientists collaborate alongside international project teams.


German involvements

German universities and research institutes are involved in the exploitation of centimetre radio astronomy with the MeerKAT. The German MeerKAT-activities are coordinated by the GLOW and are partially funded by the BMBF through the German MeerKAT (D-MeerKAT) consortium. The science goals of D-MeerKAT are designed to develop software and hardware support for the large data sets (tens of PetaBytes) from the MeerKAT, such as, large storage devices and data management, advanced imaging techniques and pipelines, spectral-line analysis, source characterization, time-domain astronomy, and many more.

People in the D-MeerKAT consortium are heavily involved with MeerKAT through several of its Large Survey Projects (LSPs), for example, MIGHTEE, MeerKATHI, LADUMA, TRAPUM and MALS. Furthermore, D-MeerKAT members are also involved in open time MeerKAT projects as PI with the time obtained during the MeerKAT's open call for proposals announced in 2020.

The MPIfR, Bonn has developed the S-Band receivers for the MeerKAT. For a development beyond the current configuration of MeerKAT, the Max-Planck Society together with MT Mechatronics have constructed an SKA prototype antenna (with L, S, and Ku band receivers) that will be available for astronomical observations.



MeerKAT Call for Proposals

Previous Open Time Calls on MeerKAT: