SAAO - South African Astronomical Observatory


The SALT is being constructed for two primary missions

  1. International Mission
    To provide a state-of-the-art facility that will permit Southern African and international astronomers and astrophysicists to perform cutting-edge research on the southern skies that will complement the research carried out using telescopes sited in the northern hemisphere
  2. South Africa-specific Mission
    To play a major role in overcoming and redressing consequences of the policies of past governments in South Africa that excluded the majority of South Africans from science, engineering and technology education, training and careers.

To realise the International Mission, the project will be committed to:

  • Developing a world-class large telescope facility located at a high-quality site.
  • Providing state-of-the-art instrumentation that will enable the astronomers and astrophysicists to achieve their research goals.
  • Ensuring that telescope time allocations are determined through a competitive peer review process to encourage the best science.
  • Encouraging scientific collaboration among astronomers in the SALT partnership and internationally.
  • Ensuring that SALT remains an internationally competitive facility for at least the next 30 years

To realise the National Mission, the project will be committed to:

  • Utilise SALT to give South Africans a perspective of our place in the Universe and thereby to help create a national culture of science and technology, with particular emphasis on the historically marginalised communities.
  • Inspire a generation of South African school children by demonstrating South African capabilities and opportunities in science and technology.
  • Educational empowerment through Science Education Programmes and Visitor Centre Programmes at the facility, with particular emphasis on the historically marginalised communities.
  • Place particular emphasis on encouraging and facilitating the development of astronomy and astrophysics in the historically disadvantaged institutions in South Africa.
  • Develop and maintain a robust post-graduate research and training programme in astronomy and associated engineering disciplines in collaboration with the Higher Education Sector in South Africa and in the Southern African sub-region.
  • Foster educational collaborations between South African institutions and other SALT partner institutions from other countries in areas of engineering, astronomical science, and other constituent technologies.

The following goals, in addition to constructing the telescope, will ensure that South Africa derives maximum collateral benefits from the SALT project to advance the economy, technology and society of the country:

  • Ensure that utilisation of South African business and people are maximised, maintaining an optimum balance of trade and keeping South African capital in South Africa.
  • Ensure that SALT is a South African project, managed, engineered, manufactured, integrated, and operated by South African institutions, companies and individuals, and ensure that the world perception reflects this.
  • Optimise the technology transfer from the HET designs, technical approaches, and contractors to appropriate South African companies or institutions.
  • Where desirable, seek collaborative arrangements between companies in South Africa and other countries that will allow South African companies to provide major subsystems of SALT and encourage further industrial collaborations.
  • Assist South Africa to develop the management and technical skills necessary to address high technology "big science" projects such as SALT.
  • Train technical students primarily from the disadvantaged community through SALT contracts with South African industry.
  • Employ tendering procedures that observe the principle of Black Economic and Technical Empowerment