Each of its antennas consists of a movable dish mounted on top of a supporting pedestal, which houses cables and some components. The dishes measure 12 metres in diameter and, in a world first, are made entirely out of fibre glass.
The curved surface of the dish reflects incoming radio waves from space to the receiver, held above the centre of the dish by metal rods. The dish focuses the radio signals into the feedhorn of the receiver in the centre of the dish.
These radio receivers, which pick up signals in the frequency range of 1200–1950 MHz, are cooled to about 70 degree Kelvin (-203°C) in order to reduce the “noise” inherent in all radio receivers. At this temperature, the receiver is 2.5 times more sensitive than at ambient temperatures, allowing images to be captured roughly six times faster. This in turn allows for the detection of much fainter celestial objects.
Once captured by the receiver, the radio signals, which are still in analogue form, travel via fibre optical cables from the antennas to the Karoo Array Processor Building (KAPB), where they are digitised and correlated.