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Meerkat, world's largest telescope to unravel galactic mysteries

Meerkat, world's largest telescope to unravel galactic mysteries

  • A scientific mega-project to unlock cosmic conundrums from dark energy to detecting extraterrestrial life was given a boost on 13 July, when the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in the remote South African town of Carnarvon.
  • Built at a cost of 4.4 billion rand (23 billion INR), MeerKAT will be incorporated into the complex Square Kilometre Array (SKA) instrument, which when fully operational in the late 2020s would be the world’s biggest and most powerful radio telescope.
  • The telescope is being built by an international consortium, including Australia, Britain, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Why It’s Important for Africa?

  • Astronomy connects philosophical, cultural and inspirational elements within the cutting edge of science and technology. For instance, astronomy has been used in Sierra Leone to improve middle school pupils’ literacy. It worked because they loved what they were learning.
  • Africa has long been left behind in the development of astronomy and space technology. It will help the African continent to reap the benefits in agriculture, health sciences and data sciences.
  • Large astronomical infrastructure investments like MeerKAT aim to stimulate the technology industry and advance the development of technical skills.

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