Register for the SARAO / Breakthrough Listen MeerKAT Grand Tour Data Science Workshop

MeerKAT Deep 2 Composite. Image Source: SARAO

Registrations are now open for the SARAO / Breakthrough Listen MeerKAT Grand Tour Data Science Workshop. The workshop will be held at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, from 15 to 21 January 2023. The MeerKAT Grand Tour student workshop aims to give prospective and current MSc students an overview of MeerKAT data reduction in a series of hands-on practicals. Through the workshop, the organisers aim to give new students exposure to a wide range of topics.

Workshop topics

  • Electronics and receivers using the L-band Transient Array Radio Telescope (TART) stationed at Rhodes University. Students will get to visit the instrument and discuss the workings of the front-end electronics and calibration that is directly applicable to understanding the core concepts in the design of the MeerKAT receiver, digitisation and correlation chain. The TART sessions will include a hands-on session with TART visibility data to be viewed and snapshot-imaged to monitor transitory Global Navigation Satellite constellations.
  • Continuum imaging. The workshop will discuss a range of continuum science topics for MeerKAT and teach prospective students the basics of interferometric calibration and imaging. This will expand upon the TART data session with subsets of MeerKAT visibility data. As a result, students will learn direction-independent and dependent toolsets that are generally needed to produce science-analysis-ready MeerKAT images.
  • Pulsar timing with MeerTime. The workshop will discuss pulsar astronomy and provide students with the opportunity to analyse filterbank data captured with the Pulsar Timing User Supplied Equipment (PTUSE) backend used for high precision timing by the MeerTime project. Students will be using the commonly-used software stacks to analyse pulsar data, including Psrchive, and conduct pulsar timing using Tempo2 and Temponest.
  • The Breakthrough Listen project and MeerKAT’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In recent years MeerKAT has joined the worldwide network of instruments searching the skies for signs that humans are not alone. As a result, the workshop will also dive into the scientific reasoning behind the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life (SETI) programme and the digital signals processing techniques in use to analyse filterbank data taken with the Breakthrough Listen User Supplied Equipment (BLUSE) backend of the MeerKAT telescope.

Application requirements

  • Intention to pursue MSc studies in 2023 at, and existing MSc students registered at, South African tertiary institutions with connections to supporting astronomy (through e.g. science, engineering, signal processing techniques or High-Performance Computing engagement). In addition, the organisers may consider applications from PhD students on a case-by-case basis if well-motivated. They also welcome cross-disciplinary applications including, astronomy, astrophysics, physics programmes, engineering programmes, computer science, mathematics and applied Mathematics.
  • A short motivation letter (max 1 page) from your supervisor / prospective supervisor stating your intended field of research;
  • A short letter detailing your current work (max 1.5 pages). You do not need to include results of ongoing work;
  • A short CV (max 1 page) with relevant skills and experience;
  • Review, prior to the workshop, of relevant material on the SARAO e-learning portal (and/or equivalent material from sister institutions); and
  • An electronic copy of your passport or SA ID ready for travel purposes

Rhodes University will provide prepaid student lodging and catering. Likewise, The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) will provide domestic flights and ground transport between Makhanda / Grahamstown and Gqeberha / Port Elizabeth.

Interested persons can apply here. The deadline for registration is 13 November 2022 at 23:59 SAST( 21:59 GMT).

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