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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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Daan du Toit

DST – South Africa

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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)

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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

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Thank you

  • Contact details: (South African S&T Representative to the EU)

    • daan.dutoit@dst.gov.za

    • http://www.esastap.org.za

    • +32 2 285 44 74 (T)

    • +32 47 368 75 14 (M)