A high-powered telescope built in South Africa is giving scientists a crystal clear view into the cosmos, CNN reports.
“It’s the clearest view ever made of the center of our galaxy,” said chief scientist Fernando Camilo about the MeerKAT radio telescope images that give a bird’s eye view into the Milky Way.
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill telescope either. It takes some 64 satellite dishes, standing at about 65 feet tall to make up the telescope conglomerate deep in the South African plain in a sparsely populated area so there is little signal interference.
With this high-powered telescope, scientists are able to receive unmatched images from space because of the sensitive dishes transmitting breakthrough images, according to reports.
“They just did everything right,” said Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, an astronomy expert at Northwestern University in Illinois.
“This image that I saw it just blew me away, I never thought we would see these details.”
It took 10 years to build the MeerKAT telescope. The South African government funded the $330 million cost to help strengthen scientists’ understanding of the universe.
The telescope is one part of a larger program called Square Kilometer Array (SKA). SKA’s goal is to build the world’s largest radio microscope by combining international resources. That project is scheduled to be completed by 2030.
Another Space Contribution from the Motherland
Senegal is another African nation pushing the envelope on space technology.
Senegal and Columbia served as ground zero for NASA’s New Horizons space program. It was an opportunity for scientists and science enthusiasts to gaze at the stars in hopes of observing the silhouette cast by an important fragment orbiting beyond Pluto as it passed in front of a bright star, the NY Times reports. The undisturbed fragment is believed to contain information about the dawn of the solar system.
It is about a billion miles past Pluto and a mere 20 miles wide, so not much is known about the object. But with a load of patience and dozens of powerful telescopes placed with extreme precision, scientists were able to capture “five blinks” (about one second) worth of invaluable data.