The MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated a few days ago in the Karoo desert, in South Africa. MeerKAT is an integral part of the multinational project Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in which Italy participates in an active and qualified manner.
The inaugural ceremony was held in the presence of the Vice President of the Republic of South Africa David Mabuza, the Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Khubayi-Ngubane and the Minister of National Education Naledi Pandor. The Ambassador of Italy to South Africa, Pietro Giovanni Donnici, together with prof. Nichi D’Amico, President of the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and the Scientific Director of INAF Filippo Zerbi were present at the inauguration. In addition to Italy and South Africa, the other members of the project are China, United Kingdom, Canada, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Spain, which became part of the SKA Organization last June.
MeerKAT, consisting of 64 parabolic antennas, almost 20 meters high, is the largest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere and, together with SKA, will not only allow a qualitative leap in the field of astronomical research, but is already having positive effects on the development of sectors such as electronics, telecommunications and information technology.
Vice President Mabuza stressed that the majority of MeerKAT components were made by South African companies or research bodies and said that Pretoria worked to ensure that other SKA components and antennas were placed in other African countries (Namibia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique and Kenya) inorder to stimulate the growth and technological development of neighboring countries. In his speech, Mabuza has explicitly acknowledged the important technological contribution given by Italian researchers and companies to the SKA project and the importance of the aerospace sector for the South African industry. This sector is the subject of specific actions in South Africa by the Italian Embassy in collaboration with other Italian players in the sector such as the Italian Space Agency, the National Institute of Astrophysics, the Foreign Center for the Internationalization of Piedmont, the DTA Scarl for Puglia, Lazio Innova and Lazio Connect, ANSER for Emilia-Romagna and DASS for Sardinia.