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LOFAR AND AFRICA. Daan du Toit DST – South Africa. ASTRONOMY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA. South African government has significantly increased science and technology funding Prioritized science with a geographical advantage – e.g. astronomy and paleontology

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lofar and africa


Daan du Toit

DST – South Africa

astronomy in southern africa
  • South African government has significantly increased science and technology funding
  • Prioritized science with a geographical advantage – e.g. astronomy and paleontology
  • Aim is to make Southern Africa a hub for Southern Hemisphere astronomy – HESS, SALT, MeerKAT and hopefully SKA and CTA
  • DST has allocated R2.3 billion (€228 million) up to 2013 to MeerKAT, SKA site bid and the associated Human Capital Development Programme – Youth into Science and Engineering
astronomy in africa
  • SKA bid is an African bid – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana
  • Endorsed by Southern African Development Community
  • Astronomy courses started at universities of Nairobi, Antanarivo, Mondlane (Maputo) as a direct result
  • Radio telescope in place for a long time in Mauritius
  • Africa SKA group looking at building outstations linked to MeerKAT for VLBI in some or all partner states
  • Nigeria building a dish
radio astronomy reserve
  • RA reserve established in the arid Northern Cape
  • Protected in terms of the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act
  • MeerKAT site and proposed SKA site
  • PAPER and C-BASS being constructed there
  • First observations with PAPER show very good environment
  • Specs developed together with Science Advisory Committee, which includes Director of ASTRON
  • Aiming at sensitivity, dynamic range and resolution to complement surveys at many wavelengths, including LOFAR
  • Good for low surface brightness but with good position resolution and polarization
  • First phase aims for 600MHz – 2.4GHz and possibly 8-15GHz
meerkat science rfp
  • Science to start in 2013
  • Huge response from international scientific community – may have to group some of the MeerKAT survey proposal teams.
  • Proposals received from many institutions including from the following countries:
    • UK, USA , Australia, Germany, France, Netherlands , Canada, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Russia, Spain, Portugal, India, Mauritius, Sweden, Korea
african participation
  • Proposals will be consolidated into a smaller number
  • About 40 South African and African astronomers from 8 South African universities and 2 NRF national facilities are members of the MeerKAT survey proposal teams.
meerkat and lofar
  • Good opportunities for collaboration on follow-up observations from LOFAR surveys, magnetic field science, HI science, galaxy and radio galaxy science, pulsars and transients
  • Several instruments exist for exchange programmes between Netherlands (EU) and South Africa
  • Already very good collaboration between ASTRON and South African astronomers on HI science and other MeerKAT science
  • LOFAR technology development relevant to MeerKAT and collaboration will be further explored (e.g. data pipelines, calibration)
meerkat and vlbi
MeerKAT and VLBI
  • Will phase MeerKAT antennas to give an equivalent VLBI antenna of about 100m in diameter
  • This will give great sensitivity on the long baselines to Europe and the EVN
  • E-connectivity already demonstrated between JIVE and HartRAO. Wide bandwidths will be available to MeerKAT as well
  • Connect to proposed VLBI / geodesy outstations across Africa
thank you
Thank you
  • Contact details: (South African S&T Representative to the EU)