2023 Science Team Award

Science Team Award

Radio Astronomy Techniques and Technologies (RATT), Rhodes University

In the words of an international reviewer for the DSI-NRF SARChI Chair in Radio Astronomy Techniques and Technologies, “…[the RATT] group is not just a leading R&D group for interferometric imaging, it is the leading group in the world.” High praise for a group that has distinguished itself in the field of radio astronomy not only for the development of algorithms and software that are used extensively by astronomers throughout the world, but also its frontier-expanding research in fundamental astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics, establishing itself as an international hub for radio astronomy techniques. Its KERN software suite, the result of a RATT PhD project, has become a de facto standard for radio astronomy. Other packages, such as CubiCal and QuartiCal became mainstays of radio
interferometric calibration.

RATT is headed up by Professor Oleg Smirnov, who maintains a NRF A-rating, and supported by team members Dr Kenda Knowles, who holds a NRF-Y rating and who coordinates an international team exploiting the MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey (MGCLS) and a MeerKAT cluster survey of her own design called MERGHERS; Dr Mpati A Ramatsoku, who leads the HI efforts for the Virgo filaments galaxy survey, coordinates the creation of an unprecedented catalogue of HI galaxies –MGCLS-HI, and plays a major role in the MeerKAT Fornax Survey; and Dr Gianni Bernardi, a Visiting Professor from Italy’s INAF and who leads a subgroup focused on Epoch of Reionization (EoR) studies, and plays a major role in the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) telescope located in the Karoo; along with a team of research associates, undergraduate students and postgraduate Research Fellows. RATT peer-reviewed articles have been published in journals such as Nature and Nature Astronomy. To date RATT has trained more than 40 postgraduate students and 15 postdoctoral Fellows.