South Africa has unveiled one of the world’s largest telescope, in its quest to unravel the secrets of the universe.
The 64-dish MeerKAT telescope will be integrated into a multi-nation Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
The SKA which is expected to be running by 2030 will comprise a forest of 3,000 dishes spread over an area of a square kilometre across remote terrain in several African countries and Australia.
This will allow astronomers to look deeper into space with unparallelled detail.
When fully operational, the SKA telescope will be 50 times more powerful than any other telescope in the world.
According to David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa, “The telescope will be the largest of its own kind in the world — with image resolution quality exceeding the Hubble Space Telescope by a factor of 50 times”.
“This day represents some of Africa’s milestones… in our quest to catch up with the rest of the world and make our own contributions to civilisation,” he added.
The SKA will explore exploding stars, black holes and traces of the universe’s origins.
South Africa, which hosts the SKA project, has invested 3.2 billion rands ($240-million) so far into the telescope.
The telescope is being built by an international consortium, including Australia, Britain, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Other African countries involved are Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.