The MeerKAT+ founded by SARAO and MPG will increase both, sensitivity and spatial resolution of the existing MeerKAT telescope array and thus provide a powerful instrument to study the formation and evolution of galaxies throughout the history of the universe.
MeerKAT+ will see 20 new dishes being added to the existing array of 64 dishes, a joint project initiated and funded by SARAO and the MPG.
INAF will support MeerKAT+ with an additional financial investment of €6-million. As a result, MeerKAT+ will not only see improved scientific capability, but will also benefit through the scientific participation of INAF.
The MeerKAT project currently has 64 dishes, and the extension will see this number rise to 84. Importantly, the extension will result in the maximum distance between the dishes increasing from 8km to 17km, a move that will increase both MeerKAT’s sensitivity and its ability to capture higher definition radio images. The telescope’s computing requirements will also increase tenfold following these improvements.
MeerKAT+ would be an even more powerful telescope to study the formation and evolution of galaxies throughout the history of the universe.
The extended MeerKAT will increase the raw sensitivity of the instruments by about 50%, a move that will enable the telescope to survey the sky faster, and also enable it to detect even the faintest astronomical sources.
MeerKAT+ will eventually be integrated into SKA1-Mid, the first phase of the SKA telescope, which will be an array of 197 dishes.
The MeerKAT+ project was initiated in 2019, and proceeded with thorough scientific evaluation and technical planning. Major tendering for MeerKAT+ is on its way, and first installation activities on site are scheduled for the middle of 2021. Integration and science commissioning of MeerKAT+ are expected to commence in 2023.