News & Media releases
Media releases, statements and news
SKAO appoints its telescope directors in Australia and South Africa
The SKA Observatory (SKAO) is pleased to announce the appointment of two widely respected figures in astronomical observatory operations as its telescope directors in Australia and South Africa. These positions are the most senior SKAO operations representatives in the telescope host countries.
SKAO is born – Launch of international Observatory signals new era for radio astronomy
SKAO Global Headquarters, Jodrell Bank, UK, Thursday 4 February 2021 – The SKA Observatory, a new intergovernmental organisation dedicated to radio astronomy, was launched today following the first meeting of the Observatory’s Council.
Statement with regard to cellular signal in towns surrounding SKA Site
The NRF|SARAO has been made aware by communities that there are problems with the mobile telecommunications signals in towns surrounding the SKA site.
Gigantic galaxies discovered with the MeerKAT telescope
Two giant radio galaxies have been discovered with South Africa’s powerful MeerKAT telescope. These galaxies are amongst the largest single objects in the Universe and are thought to be quite rare.
SARAO and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft welcome the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica as partner on the MeerKAT extension project
The National Research Foundation, through its national facility the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), and the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG) welcome the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) as an additional partner on the MeerKAT extension project (MeerKAT+).
SARAO launches e-learning platform for radio astronomy teaching and training
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) is launching an e-learning platform offering online teaching and training resources in radio astronomy. The aim of the e-learning platform is to support the growing community of students and young researchers undertaking research in astronomy at universities in South Africa and the eight Square Kilometre Array Africa partner countries.
South Africa’s MeerKAT solves mystery of ‘X-galaxies’
A team of astronomers from South Africa and the US have used the MeerKAT telescope to solve a longstanding puzzle in ‘X’-shaped radio galaxies. Many galaxies far more active than the Milky Way have enormous twin jets of radio waves extending far into intergalactic space.
Astronomers stumble upon unexpected features in a distant galaxy using MeerKAT data
An international team of astronomers has uncovered unusual features in the radio galaxy ESO 137-006 using MeerKAT data. Launched in 2018, the South African MeerKAT radio telescope is a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which aims to answer fundamental astrophysical questions about the nature of objects in the Universe.
SARAO mandated to manage the production of respiratory ventilators
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has mandated the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) to manage the national effort required for the local design, development, production and procurement of respiratory ventilators to support the government’s response to combat the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
South African Radio Astronomical Observatory (SARAO) Stakeholder Communique regarding COVID-19
South Africa is currently under a COVID-19 lockdown for a period of 21 days until midnight on 16 April 2020. The lockdown involves significant restrictions of movement.
Astronomers are riding the heatwave: tracing the energy from an accretion burst
For the first time ever astronomers have detected the radiation stimulated by a “heat wave” of intense thermal energy from a massive new-born star, or so-called protostar.
South Africa’s MeerKAT peers deep into the Universe
First radio image of distant Milky Way-like galaxies reveals star formation history of the Universe
Discovery of the highest energy light from a gamma-ray burst
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous explosions in the cosmos. These explosive events last several seconds and during that time they emit the same amount of gamma-rays as all the stars in the Universe combined.
A very rare event worth observing: Mercury passing across the face of the Sun
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) will host a transit of Mercury viewing event at the SAAO in Observatory on Monday, 11 November from 14h35 till sunset.
SARAO upskilling Africa’s bright young minds in big data
The 2019 Big Data Africa School was hosted by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), from 6 to 16 October 2019, at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town.
South Africa’s HIRAX telescope driving industry engagements
The Hydrogen and Real-time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX), led out of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), has deployed two new prototype telescope dish designs, one aluminium and the other fibreglass, at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) Hartebeesthoek in Gauteng.
South Africa’s MeerKAT discovers giant radio bubbles at centre of Milky Way
An international team of astronomers using the MeerKAT telescope has discovered enormous balloon-like structures that tower hundreds of light-years above and below the centre of our galaxy. Caused by a phenomenally energetic burst that erupted near the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole a few million years ago, the MeerKAT radio bubbles are shedding light on long-standing galactic mysteries.
South Africa’s MeerKAT discovers missing gas in distant galaxy
An international team of astronomers today announced the resolution of a long-standing mystery related to the formation and evolution of galaxies, by discovering vast amounts of hydrogen gas in a galaxy 60 million light years from Earth. Their work, just published in the journal Astronomy Astrophysics, is based on observations carried out last year with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s new MeerKAT telescope in the Northern Cape.
South African Radio Astronomer joins the ranks of Newton, Darwin and Einstein
South Africa’s Dr Bernie Fanaroff, previous director of SKA South Africa, which included the design and construction of the MeerKAT radio telescope, was among fifty eminent scientists inducted as a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society, in a ceremony in London, on 12 July 2019.
South African-led Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) Consortium completes planning work for SKA
The international engineering consortium tasked with planning the Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) of the SKA Radio Telescope has formally completed its work, another crucial step towards the construction of the world’s largest radio telescope.
SKA Consortium completes design of Science Data Processor
International consortium of computing specialists complete the engineering design work of the Science Data Processor for the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope.
Vibrant young South African community poised to use MeerKAT telescope
South African Radio Astronomy Observatory announces selection of 38 South African-led projects that will use the MeerKAT radio telescope
NRF/SARAO Congratulates Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Consortium on First Image of Black Hole
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) congratulates the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Consortium on capturing the first image of the gargantuan black hole at the heart of the distant galaxy Messier 87.
Joint media statement regarding the article published by BusinessTech regarding Karoo Central Astronomy Advantage Areas regulations
This joint statement is in response to the article titled “Flights between Joburg and Cape Town could become much longer due to new regulations” as published on the BusinessTech website (www.businesstech.co.za) on 25 March 2019.
Another milestone towards the construction of the SKA radio telescope in South Africa
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has welcomed the adoption of the Integrated Environmental Management Plan (IEMP) for phase one of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in South Africa.
Founding members sign SKA Observatory Treaty
Countries involved in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project have come together in Rome, Italy for the signature of the international treaty establishing the intergovernmental organisation that will oversee the delivery of the world’s largest radio telescope.
Minister Kubayi-Ngubane applauds SKA team for completion of key infrastructure designs
South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, congratulates the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) team of engineers for the successful completion of all essential infrastructure designs required for the first phase of the project to build the world’s most powerful radio telescope.
How the SKA is helping South Africa
Northern Cape towns benefit from one of the world’s largest astronomy projects. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the Northern Cape is not only about building a radio telescope to tune into the universe. It is also about investing in bright young scientists, local communities, and South African technology companies.
Karoo project will unlock universe’s mysteries
A massive but simple telescope is being made from wire mesh, PVC and telephone poles. A new telescope that is being constructed in the Karoo will have one aim: to look at the cosmic dawn and find the first ever signals of the birth of the first stars in the universe.
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) joins the Ceph Foundation to Advance Open Source Storage
Yesterday in Berlin SARAO joined 30 other members in the establishment of the Ceph Foundation, to manage the massive growth in data and information generated from cloud, container and Artificial Intelligence applications.
SARAO conveys its condolences on the passing of Professor Sergio Colafrancesco
Yesterday in Berlin SARAO joined 30 other members in the establishment of the Ceph Foundation, to manage the massive growth in data and information generated from cloud, container and Artificial Intelligence applications.
Breakthrough Listen to incorporate the MeerKAT array in its existing search for extraterrestrial signals and technosignatures
Breakthrough Listen, the global initiative to seek signs of intelligent life in the Universe – announced today at the International Astronautical Congress the commencement of a major new program with the MeerKAT telescope in partnership with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).
Dr Bernie Fanaroff acknowledged by National Research Foundation by Lifetime Achievement Award at NRF Awards 2018
Dr Bernie Fanaroff, former Project Director of the Square Kilometre Array, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the NRF Awards 2018 on 26 September 2018, awarded for his extraordinary contribution, of international standard and impact, to the development of science in and for South Africa over an extended period of time.
HartRAO instrumental in the successful adoption of the Third realisation of International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF-3)
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, through its Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory in Gauteng, has been instrumental in the adoption of the Third realisation of the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF-3), adopted at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly held in Vienna, Austria last month.
The General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union to be hosted on African soil for the first time in 2024
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) today announced the 32nd General Assembly of the IAU in 2024 will be hosted by Cape Town, South Africa. This will be the first time in the 105 year history of the IAU that the General Assembly will be held on the African continent. The award recognises the incredible strides that African astronomy has taken in recent years.
SARAO celebrates the successful completion of the SKA Telescope Manager Critical Design Review
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) celebrates after the SKA Telescope Manager Critical Design Review has been completed.
SKA Global Headquarters – A consortium of French research institutes and industry has become the 12th member of the SKA Organisation following approval of its accession by the SKA Board of Directors.
The decision to accept the request of CNRS, Europe’s largest research organisation, for membership was taken at the 27th meeting of the SKA Board of Directors in Cape Town, South Africa.
SKA in South Africa was highlighted during the Chinese State Visit – identified as vehicle for diplomacy and development
Radio astronomy in South Africa featured prominently when the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, hosted the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Mr Xi Jinping, on a State Visit to South Africa.
MeerKAT radio telescope inaugurated in South Africa – reveals clearest view yet of centre of the Milky Way
13 July 2018 – Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr David Mabuza, today officially inaugurated the MeerKAT radio telescope. After a decade in design and construction, this project of South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology has now begun science operations. At the launch event, a panorama obtained with the new telescope was unveiled that reveals extraordinary detail in the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy. This is one of several very exciting new views of the Universe already observed by the telescope.
Swedish receiver to capture cosmic waves in the world’s largest radio telescope
22 June 2018 – Just arrived in South Africa, Chalmers’ most advanced radio receiver is Sweden’s main contribution to the record-breaking telescope SKA (Square Kilometre Array). The advanced prototype, now being tested in the Karoo Desert, is not only shiny and new. It’s also an important step towards a radio telescope that will challenge our ideas of time and space.
MeerLICHT telescope inaugurated
1 June 2018 – On Friday May 25 – Africa Day 2018 – a new telescope has been inaugurated at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) near Sutherland, that will be an “eye of the MeerKAT radio array”, the country’s precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope observes a rare burst of activity from an exotic star, demonstrating outstanding capabilities as a new instrument for scientific exploration
6 April 2018 – An article published today in The Astrophysical Journal presents the study of a magnetar – a star that is one of the most magnetic objects known in the universe – that awoke in 2017 from a 3-year slumber. Radio observations that could only be made with MeerKAT, a telescope being built in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, triggered observations with NASA X-ray telescopes orbiting the Earth.
SKA prototype dish assembled for the first time
6 February 2018 – The first fully assembled SKA dish was unveiled today at a ceremony in Shijiazhuang, China, by the Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, in the presence of representatives from the countries involved and the SKA Organisation. The dish is one of two final prototypes that will be tested ahead of production of an early array.
MeerKAT construction recognised by industry at 2017 Logistics Achiever Awards
7 November 2017 – The MeerKAT radio telescope, currently being built by Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA), was recognised by the construction industry last week when it was presented with a Special Platinum Award at the 2017 Logistics Achiever Awards.
SARAO and SAEON sign three-year Memorandum of Agreement to implement the Integrated Environmental Management Plan for SKA in South Africa
1 November 2017 – The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), which are National Research Facilities managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF), signed a three-year Memorandum of Agreement to implement the Integrated Environmental Management Plan (IEMP) for the SKA project in South Africa.
Progress update on the planning and design of SKA1
27 October 2017 – The SKAO is moving towards finalising the detailed design of the SKA1 radio telescope which will culminate in Critical Design Reviews (CDR) for all the telescope products and associated infrastructure and power during the course of 2018. The detailed design is being undertaken by 9 Design Consortia from across the world.
MeerKAT makes its debut scientific contribution on an international collaboration and major discovery
16 October 2017 – An unprecedented international collaboration of telescopes has lead to the first direct detection of gravitational waves – ripples in space and time – in addition to light from the spectacular collision of two neutron stars. The discovery marks the first time that a cosmic event has been viewed in both gravitational waves and light.
Joint media statement of the outcomes of the 4th Ministerial Meeting of the SKA Africa partner countries
25 August 2017 – Members of the nine Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African partner countries represented by its respective Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Science and Technology concluded the Fourth Ministerial Meeting on the SKA in Accra, Ghana, on 24 August 2017 by signing a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on radio astronomy.
Ghana and South Africa celebrate first success of African network of telescopes
14 July 2017 – The Ministries of Ghana and South Africa announce the combination of ‘first light’ science observations which confirm the successful conversion of the Ghana communications antenna from a redundant telecoms instrument into a functioning Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) radio telescope.
2017 Jansky Lectureship Awarded to South African Astronomer Bernie Fanaroff
29 June 2017 – Associated Universities, Inc. and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory have awarded the 2017 Jansky Lectureship to South African astronomer Bernie Fanaroff for his exceptional contributions to radio astronomy and his unparalleled leadership through public service.
Dr Rob Adam delivers update on SKA SA and MeerKAT to Parliament
31 May 2017 – Dr Rob Adam, SKA SA Managing Director, delivered an update on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and MeerKAT projects in Parliament on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 to the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology.
Condolences to late Professor Giovanni Bignami’s family and colleagues
25 May 2017 – SKA South Africa, together with the global radio astronomy community, expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends and acquaintances of Professor Giovanni Bignami, the Chair of the SKA Board.
Carnarvon Primary Team takes third place at Virtual Gear Robotics Competition
19 May 2017 – A team from Carnarvon Primary School took third place in the Virtual Gear Robotics Competition which was held in earlier this month.
SKA SA presents first Array Release 1.5 images taken with MeerKAT 32 to Minister Naledi Pandor
16 May 2017 – SKA SA Chief Scientist Dr Fernando Camilo and SKA SA Head of Science Commissioning Dr Sharmila Goedhart, released to the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, the recent AR1.5 results, images achieved by using various configurations of the 32 antennas currently operational in the Karoo.
Pioneering research and data management in Africa: a dual first
3 April 2017 -The first Big Data Africa Summer School on the African continent was launched in Cape Town yesterday. This unique initiative will expose students from various academic backgrounds to the fundamentals of big data research by applying their knowledge to practical areas in astronomy, bioinformatics and health sciences; and the transfer of knowledge in the area of data science that builds on a multi-disciplinary approach.
Brandvlei Stofskoppers steal the show at Scifest Africa
17 March 2017 -The Brandvlei Stofskoppers, a rieldans troupe from Brandvlei in the Northern Cape, returned home with superstar status after they received a standing ovation and calls of “Encore!” at the Scifest Africa official opening on Friday, 10 March 2017.
Artisan student on SKA SA bursary passes trade test to qualify as fitter and turner
17 March 2017 – Davan Hoorn, an FET student training to be a fitter and turner at the SKA SA site at Losberg, passed his trade test to qualify recently.
Karoo’s HERA radio telescope attracts even more international funding
6 March 2017 – The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) radio telescope, located only a few kilometres from the MeerKAT radio telescope, was awarded a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in the US to the value of $5.8 million, equivalent to approximately R75 million.
SKA South Africa provides bursaries to four more Carnarvon matriculants to study at university
3 March 2017 – Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) has awarded bursaries, for university studies in science and technology, to four learners, who matriculated from Carnarvon High School in 2016.
SKA and Agri SA partners for the benefit of local communities
22 February 2017 – SKA South Africa and Agri SA today signed an agreement that commits both organisations to jointly ensure that local communities of the Karoo benefit from the SKA project.
Two SKA SA bursary students depart on Australian vacation work programme
2 December 2016 – Two SKA SA bursary funded students, Tokiso Motoai and Katherine James, have been selected to participate in the first exchange Australian vacation work programme, the CSIRO/SKA SA Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship.
HERA telescope in the Karoo gets $9.5 million funding injection to view the Universe’s first stars and galaxies
14 September 2016 – The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA) brings more international funding to South Africa with a $9.5 million investment to expand its capabilities, as announced today by the US National Science Foundation.
SKA South Africa sponsored student heads to Princeton for PhD
25 August 2016 – Ms Heather Prince, an astronomy postgraduate student in the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been accepted to study a PhD degree in Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. She joins the prestigious institution’s Department of Astrophysical Sciences in September this year. SKA South Africa provided Prince with a grant to complete her Masters degree in astrophysics, which she received from UKZN in April this year.
UKZN PhD astronomer finds a new radio halo
21 July 2016 – Dr Kenda Knowles, a Claude Leon postdoctoral researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, has found evidence for a new radio halo in a low-mass galaxy cluster.
MeerKAT joins the ranks of the world’s great scientific instruments through its First Light image
16 July 2016 – The MeerKAT First Light image of the sky shows unambiguously that MeerKAT is already the best radio telescope of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Array Release 1 (AR1) provides 16 of an eventual 64 dishes integrated into a working telescope array. It is the first significant scientific milestone achieved by MeerKAT, the radio telescope under construction in the Karoo that will eventually be integrated into the Square Kilometre Array.
HERA joins family of SKA precursors
5 July 2016 – The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA) was granted the status of SKA precursor telescope by SKA Organisation, joining the three other SKA precursor telescopes located on the SKA sites in Australia and South Africa.
Young SKA SA science process developer attends NASA summer workshop on asteroid defence
1 July 2016 – A young SKA SA science process developer, Olorato Mosiane, is currently attending the NASA summer workshop on asteroid defence. He is one of only three selected from South Africa.
As astronomers gather to discuss scientific potential of MeerKAT, the telescope being built in the Karoo produces its first remarkable image
24 May 2016 – More than 100 researchers and students from South Africa and around the world are meeting this week to share plans to use the MeerKAT radio telescope. This week, an observation using just 4 of the eventual 64 dishes has produced a remarkable view of the sky, revealing never before seen radio galaxies in the distant universe.
SKA SA, NMC Civils and Absa collaborate in a new economic endeavour for Karoo contractors
10 May 2016 – SKA SA and NMC Civils have partnered with Absa in an enterprise and supply chain initiative to develop and support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Northern Cape through the SKA programme.
Former Columbia University academic joins SKA South Africa as Chief Scientist
26 February 2016 – Dr Fernando Camilo, former senior research scientist at Columbia University in New York, joins the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) as Chief Scientist on 1 April 2016.
SKA SA-led Infra SA Consortium receives more than R40 million in European Union Horizon 2020 funding
23 February 2016 – A Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA)-led consortium has received €2,251,920 (more than R40,3 million) from the European Union Horizon 2020 Funding to undertake the detailed design of the SKA1_MID infrastructure and power elements in South Africa.
SKA SA staff members and management officially welcomes Dr Rob Adam as Project Director
26 January 2016 – Dr Rob Adam, the new SKA SA Project Director, was officially welcomed to the organisation. He took over the reigns on 1 January 2016.
SKA SA sponsors 11th CASPER workshop hosted by the University of Cape Town
22 January 2016 – The Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) sponsors the 11th Collaboration for Astronomy Signal Processing Electronics Research (CASPER) workshop from Monday, 25 to Friday, 29 January 2016 by the University of Cape Town.
In Case You Missed It
The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) spearheads South Africa’s activities in the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, commonly known as the SKA, in engineering, science and construction. SARAO is a National Facility managed by the National Research Foundation and incorporates radio astronomy instruments and programmes such as the MeerKAT and KAT-7 telescopes in the Karoo, the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) in Gauteng, the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) programme in nine African countries, as well as the associated human capital development and commercialisation endeavours. More
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation based at the Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility. More
The NRF is an independent statutory body setup in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all ﬁelds of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge, and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. More
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Last Updated on August 2, 2023