Mysteries of universe in focus for S. African mega telescope

CARNARVON, South Africa (Reuters) — South African officials and scientists on Dec. 5 celebrated a milestone toward building the world’s largest radio astronomy instrument, which is cohosted with Australia and aims to unlock mysteries of the universe.

The construction launch outside the remote town of Carnarvon, Northern Cape, marks the next phase of developing a complex instrument aimed at revealing events since the cosmic dawn, when the first stars and galaxies were formed.

South Africa said it will add 133 dishes to its 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope to create SKA-Mid in the next phase of developing the so-called Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

“Today has huge significance for all of us … working toward building a large, exploratory instrument that can serve our community and advance a number of scientific frontiers,” Joseph McMullin, deputy director-general at the SKA Observatory intergovernmental organization said.