First MeerKAT telescope foundation laid

first_img15 August 2013The concrete for the first MeerKAT antenna foundation was poured at South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site in the Northern Cape on Wednesday.The SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, which is to be co-hosted by South Africa and Australia.The 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope is due to come online in 2016 both as a precursor to the SKA and as one of the most powerful telescopes in the world in its own right.The foundation laid on Wednesday is the first of 64 similar foundations – each comprising 78 cubic metres of concrete and 9 tons of steel – that will be built for the MeerKAT over the next nine months.“Designing a foundation for a high-tech telescope is complex and challenging since it has to meet a set of stringent requirements,” Tracy Cheetham, general manager for infrastructure and site operations at SKA South Africa, said in a statement.“The foundations must ensure that each of the 19-metre high antennas with its 13.5 x 16 metre main reflector will be exceptionally stable and able to point accurately at distant celestial objects at wind speeds gusting to 69 kilometres an hour as well as survive wind speeds of up to 144 kilometres an hour.”Another challenge for the design team, working with contractors Brink & Heath Civils, was to ensure that each antenna was carefully earthed and would not be damaged in the event of a lightning strike.To meet these stability requirements, each foundation consists of eight steel-reinforced concrete piles at depths of between 5 to 10 metres, depending on the local soil conditions. A square slab of concrete (5.2 x 5.2 metres, and 1.25 metres thick) rests on top of the piles to add further stability. The 32 “holding down” bolts are pre-assembled in a circle to form a steel ring cage, or so-called “bird’s nest”, into which the concrete is cast.“This first foundation will now be verified through a series of load tests to ensure that all specifications have been met,” Cheetham said.“Getting this absolutely right is critically important for the science to be done with this instrument, and will also inform the construction of foundations for other SKA dishes to be built in the Karoo.”The MeerKAT is due to be commissioned in 2014/15, and to come online for science operations in 2016. It will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere until the Square Kilometre Array itself is completed around 2024. Leading radio astronomy teams from around the globe having already signed up to use the instrument.Via the MeerKAT, South Africa is playing a key role in design and technology developments for the SKA, with close to 100 young scientists and engineers working on the MeerKAT project.“Based at the engineering office in Cape Town, and at universities and technology companies across South Africa and Africa, these researchers interact closely with SKA teams around the world,” SKA South Africa says on its website.“In collaboration with South African industry and universities, and collaborating with global institutions, the South African team has developed technologies and systems for the MeerKAT telescope, including innovative composite telescope dishes and cutting-edge signal processing hardware and algorithms.”According to Professor Justin Jonas, associate director for science and engineering at SKA South Africa, the MeerKAT “will make up one quarter of SKA Phase 1 mid-frequency array, and the science planned for SKA Phase 1 is very similar to the MeerKAT science case – just much more ambitious.“Our researchers and students who participate in the MeerKAT surveys have a huge advantage. They are well placed to enter SKA Phase 1. They have the opportunity to become science leaders in future SKA projects.”Up to 2016, South Africa will be constructing the 64 MeerKAT dishes in the Karoo, with construction on the 190 dishes of SKA Phase 1 probably starting around the time the MeerKAT is complete.“The design of the SKA dishes is not yet final, but they should look similar to the Gregorian-offset dish design chosen for MeerKAT,” Prof Jonas expects.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Virat Kohli’s attitude rubbing off on openers as India face problem of plenty

first_imgIt is tough when one among three in-form players has to sit out but senior India opener Murali Vijay is relieved that his “off-the field friendship” with KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan has helped him deal with sensitive selection matters with ease.Dhawan and Rahul scored 94 and 79 in the second innings of the first Test on a green top where Vijay, India’s most technically equipped opener, was dropped. With Dhawan taking a break in the second Test, it was Vijay, who made a successful comeback in international cricket with a patient hundred.With one among Dhawan and Rahul set to be dropped from the XI, Vijay was asked about how does their troika deal with the situation.”We three are very good friends off the field and that makes it much easier. Definitely, it unsettles (when one is dropped) the opener, who is playing regularly. Obviously, we three share a good rapport outside the field and this will help us big time during the (South Africa) series coming ahead and in the future,” Vijay said at the pre-match media conference.The Tamil Nadu opener revealed that sharing feelings about selection openly with each other helps them to move on rather than keeping things brewing inside.So when one among the three is dropped, how do they deal with such a situation?Vijay said: “Make it easier, lighter and more fun (for the other). Talking about it openly and having a good chat over it rather than keeping things within yourself and making the other person feel it.”advertisementThe 33-year-old said whenever he and Dhawan have faced such a situation, they thrashed it out and moved on. “It’s better off going in the open. Like whatever I feel or Shikhar feels, we put it out in the open, so that it comes off and we move forward,” he said.”Basically, we are fun-loving people and we do things together. We have good times outside the field, which is really helping us as a team.”However, Vijay sidestepped the question on what can be the possible playing XI for the final Test.”I don’t know. Whatever the team management does, we are well-equipped and all looking to contribute. I don’t know how they (team management) are going to play around with the team. It’s absolutely their choice and we are ready to do it for the team,” said Vijay, who has 3536 runs in 52 Tests with 10 hundreds.As the discussions veered towards playing in challenging conditions, Vijay said that communication and sharing of knowledge becomes important.”We have been playing Test cricket abroad for a while now and the same members have stuck together. It’s going to be very important for us to communicate and share knowledge with each other,” he said.”These are things I am looking forward to in this tour as these are the things that will add value rather than going and having hit in the centre.”We should clear our head before we are going to do. These are aspects we are looking forward to and there are definite plans for team building activity and it will be good fun.”Vijay in his mind has already started preparing for the South Africa tour and the old school practice of knocking against tennis ball to cope with bounce was an example.”I tried to do something different in practice so that it challenges me. I try to be better each and every day possible. That’s the whole concept of doing that.”With Tamil Nadu out of Ranji Trophy, Vijay plans to focus on fitness and skill development in the next three weeks before leaving for South Africa.”Definitely occupy myself with fitness and skill level where I want to go on and improve a little bit. Have a good training schedule and stick onto it and prepare for the big series coming ahead.”Vijay rated the Feroz Shah Kotla track as “good” and hoped that it would be a good experience to play on a track that had grass covering.”It has grass obviously and that’s the pattern for the whole series. Hopefully, the wicket plays good and we get a good experience before the SA tour.”last_img read more