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The MeerKAT radio telescope is being constructed roughly 80km North-West of the small town of Carnarvon in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, with science commissioning started early 2018. It proved to be much more sensitive than originally envisioned due to very sensitive receivers and well-matched optics and has already seen new science results. It is considered to be a precursor to the SKA mid-frequency reflector antenna array… so much so that it will ultimately be integrated into SKA.

We were responsible for all the electromagnetic trade-off analyses required for the down-selection between prime focus and offset Gregorian optics, as well as for the comparison between the two feed-arm positions – primarily above or below the main reflector in the offset case. When we proposed and optimised a small extension to the sub-reflector to further reduce ground noise interference, a clear winner was declared: MeerKAT would be offset Gregorian, with a low-slung feed arm. It is a classic conical design, as it was decided beforehand not to entertain deviations from paraboloids and ellipsoids.

Over the same period, our prime product drive was to develop and produce the

UHF- and L-band cryogenic receivers.

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