The nuts and bolts that make up the KAT-7 #Scibraai Monday Menu

Do you want to get up to speed with what’s been happening in the Karoo since the construction of the first KAT-7 radio telescopes started? Then have a look at this paper written by a host of local and international experts in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In it, Tony Folley and his co-authors note the main engineering and scientific highlights from this effort, and discuss the applicability of KAT-7 to both MeerKAT and other next-generation radio telescopes.

They reflect on the use of a composite dish surface, and the intricacies involve in fabricate it. The authors also report on the use of the Stirling cycle cryogenic system with ion pump to achieve vacuum, the ROACH (Reconfigurable Open Architecture Computing Hardware)-based correlator with SPEAD (Streaming Protocol for Exchanging Astronomical Data) protocol data transfer, and KATCP (Karoo Array Telescope Control Protocol) control protocol.



“KAT-7 has also been used for scientific observations where it has a niche in mapping low surface-brightness continuum sources, some extended HI halos and OH masers in star-forming regions,” writes Tony Foley and his co-authors. “It can also be used to monitor continuum source variability, observe pulsars, and make VLBI observations.”

Reference: Foley, A.R. et al (2016) Engineering and Science Highlights of the KAT-7 Radio Telescope, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


Engela Duvenage

Co-founder of Day job: Science writer and science communicator who loves turning research papers into news stories. Claim to fame: mother of two daughters; winner of the Izethelo Award for Outstanding Journalism (2016) from the South African fruit industry, and winner of the best technical article award (2016) as presented by the South African Agricultural Writers' Association Background: MPhil (Journalism, specialising in science journalism) and HonsBA (Psychology).

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