The biggest science project Africa has ever seen begins with the assembly of a tiny node of steel. Intricately bound, it weighs about as much as a light dumbbell, and is the basis of the back-up structure to the most advanced dish antenna system on the continent.
The node, and the back-up structure it helps build, form the building blocks of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a battalion of enormous dish antennas being installed near Carnarvon, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The entire array will eventually represent one million square metres of radio frequency collecting area and will capture data from outer space alongside eight other sites across Africa – and Western Australia too.
Collectively, these dish antennas will make up the largest telescope ever to probe into outer space. When the Square Kilometre Array is completed in 2032, the project will stand as the biggest scientific endeavour in the world – capable of detecting airport radar on a planet tens of light years away. Together, the dish antennas dotted around the globe will deliver images of space that outstrip the Hubble Telescope by a factor or 50.
Full story available in Indwe magazine.