MeerKAT will act as a precursor instrument for the planned international Square Kilometer Array , and is destined to be a collection of 60+ offset-Gregorian reflector antennas - each roughtly 13m in diameter and containing multiple receivers cooled to cryogenic tempreatures. It should see first light by mid-decade, with an exciting bouquet of science experiments just waiting for the instrument's completion.
The technical requirements are severe, and EMSS is fortunate to be in a position to assist with the South African development efforts- specifically its receiver systems. We are responsible for the development and integration of the cryogenic cooler system, the associated vacuum maintenance inside the receiver vessel, the high-fidelity receive antenna development and the first stage low-noise amplification. Our control, monitoring, power supply and overall fluid cooling sub-systems all play vital roles to support this multi-disciplinary antenna system.
Very stringent requirements exist on the reflector antenna integrity and shape, and we play a role in establishing the causal links between real-world tolerances and EM-world performance. Some traditional high-frequency rules-of-thumb break down when entering the world of small-diameter reflectors, with complex geometry, operating in VHF or L-band. Armed with FEKO, an intimate knowledge of its kernel capabilities, and with rapid access to the in-house FEKO development team when special functionality is required, we are positioned very favourably to assist the MeerKAT project with such optical design problems.