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SKA site, South Africa 2014 54.jpg
Five antennas of KAT-7 in 2014
Part ofSouth African Radio Astronomy Observatory Edit this on Wikidata
Location(s)Northern Cape, Meerkat National Park, South Africa Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates30°43′16″S 21°24′40″E / 30.721°S 21.411°E / -30.721; 21.411Coordinates: 30°43′16″S 21°24′40″E / 30.721°S 21.411°E / -30.721; 21.411 Edit this at Wikidata
OrganizationDepartment of Science and Innovation
National Research Foundation Edit this on Wikidata
Altitude1,100 m (3,600 ft) Edit this at Wikidata
Wavelength3 cm (10.0 GHz)–30 cm (1,000 MHz)
Built–2011 (–2011) Edit this at Wikidata
First light2009 Edit this on Wikidata
Telescope styleradio interferometer Edit this on Wikidata
Number of telescopesEdit this on Wikidata
Diameter12 m (39 ft 4 in) Edit this at Wikidata
Collecting area2,000 m2 (22,000 sq ft) Edit this at Wikidata
Websitewww.ska.ac.za Edit this at Wikidata
KAT-7 is located in South Africa
Location of KAT-7
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

KAT-7 is a radio telescope situated in the Meerkat National Park, in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Part of the Karoo Array Telescope project, it is the precursor engineering test bed to the larger MeerKAT telescope, but it has become a science instrument in its own right. The construction was completed in 2011 and commissioned in 2012. It also served as a technology demonstrator for South Africa's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array.[1] KAT-7 is the first Radio telescope to be built with a composite reflector and uses a stirling pump for 75 K cryogenic cooling. The telescope was built to test various system for the MeerKAT array, from the ROACH correlators designed and manufactured in Cape Town, now used by various telescopes internationally, to composite construction techniques.[2] With the short baselines the telescope is suited to observing diffuse sources, but will begin VLBI observation in 2013.

Technical specifications[edit]

KAT-7 consist of 7 dishes of 12 metres in diameter, each a prime focus reflecting telescope.[3]

MeerKAT supports a wide range of observing modes, including deep continuum, polarisation and spectral line imaging, pulsar timing and transient searches. A range of standard data products are provided, including an imaging pipeline. A number of "data spigots" are also available to support user-provided instrumentation. Significant design and qualification efforts are planned to ensure high reliability in order to achieve low operational cost and high availability.

Key performance parameters
Parameter Value
Number of antennae 7
Dish diameter 12 m
Minimum baseline 26 m
Maximum baseline 185 m
Frequency Range 1200...1950 MHz
Instantaneous Bandwidth 256 MHz
Polarisation Linear (H + V)
Tsys for all elevation angles above 30°:
< 35 K across the entire frequency band
~ 30 K average
Elevation 2...95°
Correlator Modes:
Mode # Bands Band Bandwidth Channel Bandwidth available?
Wideband 1 256 MHz 390.625 kHz Yes
8k Wideband 1 256 MHz 48.8 kHz Yes
HI Spectral Line 1 ≥ 33.4 MHz ≤ 4.8 kHz ~ Oct 2012
OH Spectral Line 1 400/32 = 12.5 MHz 1.5 kHz ~ Jun 2012
OH Spectral Line 1 400/128 = 3.1 MHz 0,381 kHz ~ Jun 2012


In April 2010 four of the seven dishes were linked together as an integrated system to produce its first interferometric image of an astronomical object. In Dec 2010, there was a successful detection of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) fringes between the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory's 26 m dish and one of the KAT-7 dishes.[4]

See also[edit]


External video
video icon Creamer Media's Shannon O'Donnell speaks to Engineering News senior contributing editor Keith Campbell about the MeerKAT radio telescope. 24 April 2009
  1. ^ Campbell, Keith (2009-04-03). "An array of technology spin-offs emerges as the 'MeerKAT' radio telescope gains traction". Martin Creamer Engineering News. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  2. ^ "International Correlator Collaboration |". Retrieved 2012-05-11.
  3. ^ "KAT-7". SKA South Africa Project. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  4. ^ First HartRAO-KAT-7 VLBI fringes signal new capability Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]