MT Mechatronics and Max Planck Institute to collaborate on the large-scale radio telescope project SKA

Mainz/Bonn, 15 December 2016. The Mainz-based telescope and antenna specialist MT Mechatronics GmbH (MTM, a subsidiary of OHB SE, Prime Standard, ISIN DE0005936124) and Bonn's Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) today signed an agreement to build a prototype antenna together for the radio telescope project SKA that is currently in development.

SKA stands for Square Kilometre Array. The plan is to build the world's largest and most powerful radio telescope in South Africa's Karoo Desert and the Western Australian Murchison region by 2023, with an antenna surface of 1,000,000 square metres. Ten countries have joined forces as members of the SKA organisation to realise this ground-breaking project for exploring the cosmos: Australia, Canada, China, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, India and the UK. India is on board as an associate member. In addition numerous research institutes, also from Germany, are involved in the realisation.

When completed, the SKA will be made up of thousands of antennas that are all connected to supercomputers via long-distance networks for assessing the data they generate. The data volume is greater than that of today’s worldwide internet traffic. The centrepiece of the observatory will be the 15-metre parabolic reflectors in South Africa, which can detect frequencies from 350 to 20,000 MHz. To demonstrate the overall functionality of this so called SKA mid-dish telescope system MTM and MPIfR are developing and building the prototype antenna now scheduled to go into operation in South Africa in mid 2018.

The SKA will be 50 to 100 times more sensitive than the best radio telescope currently known to mankind, and it will be able to scan outer space tens of thousands of times faster.

SKA radio telescope project
Graphic illustration of several parabolic antennas in South Africa as part of the of the large scale SKA radio telescope project. Copyright: MT Mechatronics GmbH

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About MT Mechatronics
MT Mechatronics in Mainz emerged from the Antenna division of MAN Gustavsburg. Today we belong to MT Aerospace AG and specialise, with our more than 55 years of experience in the field, in turnkey communication antennae, optical and radio telescopes, industrial plants, mechatronic equipment for research facilities, launch systems for European space programmes and medical apparatus for cancer therapy. Our range of products and services encompasses the entire supply chain from design to development, manufacturing, system integration and commissioning, training, servicing and operating the plants.

About MPI
The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy is one of the Max Planck Society's 80 research facilities. The MPIfR does fundamental research in the field of radio astronomy and infrared astronomy. We strive to explore the physics of stars, galaxies and the universe. The 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg and the APEX telescope in Chile are well-known observatories belonging to the institute.

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