First MeerKAT antenna foundation poured

Aug 16, 2013
Pouring of first foundation. Credit: Rupert Spann

The concrete for the first MeerKAT antenna foundation was poured yesterday at South Africa's SKA site in the Karoo. This is the first of 64 similar foundations that will be constructed for this telescope over the next nine months. Each foundation consists of 78 m³ concrete and 9 tons of steel.

"Designing a foundation for a high-tech telescope is complex and challenging since it has to meet a set of stringent requirements," Tracy Cheetham, general manager for infrastructure and site operations at SKA South Africa explains. "The foundations must ensure that each of the 19-m high antennas with its 13.5 x 16 m main will be exceptionally stable and able to point accurately at distant celestial objects at wind speeds gusting to 69 km/h as well as survive of up to 144 km/h. Another challenge for the design team was to ensure that each was carefully earthed and would not be damaged in the event of a .

To meet these stability requirements, each foundation consists of eight steel-reinforced concrete piles at depths of between 5 to 10 m, depending on the local . A square slab of concrete (5.2 m x 5.2 m, and 1.25 m thick) rests on top of the piles to add further stability. The 32 "holding down" bolts are pre-assembled in a circle to form a steel ring cage, or so-called "bird's nest", into which the concrete is cast.

"This first foundation will now be verified through a series of load tests to ensure that all specifications have been met," Cheetham says. "Getting this absolutely right is critically important for the science to be done with this instrument, and will also inform the construction of foundations for other SKA dishes to be built in the Karoo."

Explore further: Short, sharp shocks let slip the stories of supernovae

More information: www.ska.ac.za/meerkat/

Related Stories

Debate still raging on site for super-telescope

Mar 23, 2012

An international consortium planning to build the world's most powerful radiotelescope is still debating whether South Africa or Australia should host the $2 billion project, an official said Friday.

S.Africa eyes $2.5 bln for super telescope (Update)

Oct 09, 2012

South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday gave his political backing to negotiations with foreign partners to help fund the construction of the world's next generation radio telescope.

Recommended for you

Hubble observes one-of-a-kind star nicknamed 'Nasty'

May 21, 2015

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is ...

Galaxy's snacking habits revealed

May 20, 2015

A team of Australian and Spanish astronomers have caught a greedy galaxy gobbling on its neighbours and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past.

Supernova ignition surprises scientists

May 20, 2015

Scientists have captured the early death throes of supernovae for the first time and found that the universe's benchmark explosions are much more varied than expected.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.