SKA South Africa Building the World’s Largest and Most Sensitive Radio Telescope with Help of AssetWise(Bentley Systems)
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SKA South Africa Building the World’s Largest and Most Sensitive Radio Telescope with Help of AssetWise(Bentley Systems)

EXTON, Pa. — January 18, 2017Bentley Systems, Incorporated, announced that, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project is an international enterprise to build the largest and most sensitive radio telescope installation in the world, with locations in both Africa and Australia. The SKA will ultimately use thousands of dishes and up to 1 million antennae that will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence. The ZAR 2 billion South African MeerKAT radio telescope, currently being built some 90 kilometers outside the small town of Carnarvon, South Africa, is a precursor to the (SKA) telescope and will be integrated into the mid-frequency component of SKA Phase 1.

South African MeerKAT Core Array in May 2016 Image courtesy of SKA South Africa

The MeerKAT telescope structure will consist of 64 antennae comprising primary reflector dishes, each with a projected dish diameter of 13.5 meters and sub-reflectors of 3.5 diameters offset from each other (known as an offset Gregorian optical layout). The precise orientation of these dishes is calibrated to the intended use of the telescope. Sixteen of these antennae are already installed and operational, and precise information about the configuration of the assets in the array is required at all times.
SKA South Africa deployed AssetWise across all sites to capture and manage all asset information required for construction, operations, and maintenance. The system ensures information mobility among its multi-discipline team, which includes civil infrastructure (including 160 kilometers of buried cables), structural design for the massive dishes, purposebuilt housing (for all the electronic equipment), software development, and all network and communications. The software saves maintenance time and helps the team manage change.

All participants in a subsystem are informed of any change, what is changing and by whom, and the effects analysis of the change. With AssetWise, the team applied best practice configuration management principles. As assets are handed over to operations and maintenance, the asset information system allows integration with logistics and maintenance management systems while maintaining a single view of the asset and control over the design and asset infrastructure.   Willem Esterhuyse, MeerKAT project manager, SKA South Africa, said, “By ensuring that complete and accurate data was available at all times, that baselines were maintained, that engineering change procedures were completed efficiently and in a timely manner, and that configurations of serialized items where constantly maintained, we were able to reduce rework to a minimum, achieve our aggressive timescales, and exceed the user requirement.


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