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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ghana converts Vodafone’s earth station to radio astronomy

The government of Ghana has commenced work on its Radio Astronomy project in preparedness for the African’s bid to host the largest Telescope in the world led by South Africa with a request to Vodafone Ghana Limited for conversion of its Satellite Earth Station for the project.

Ghanaian Minister, Environment Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Ayittey made these disclosures recently while welcoming the South African team on the Telescope, otherwise known as Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

Ghana News Agency (GNA) reports that the Ghana Radio Astronomy Project is being implemented as part of the SKA project, in readiness to enhance the continent’s chances to win the bid and Ghana’s ability in astronomy and astrophysics.

The SKA bid expected to be unveiled by June 2012, she said will become one of the largest scientific research facilities in the world, while consolidating Africa as a major hub for astronomy.

She also revealed that nine Africa countries, including Ghana and Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar as well as Mauritius among others, which have radio telescope already.

The building of Ghana Radio Astronomy, she said, would have sub-stations if the lot eventually falls on South Africa.

She said the SKA is 50-100 times more sensitive than any radio telescope on earth and would be able to probe the edges of the universe as well as answer fundamental questions in astronomy, physics cosmology and questions concerning stars and planets.

The Ghana project, she further said, was as a result of request from her Ministry to Vodafone Ghana Limited to convert its large Satellite Earth Station at Kuntunse in the Greater Accra Region into a Radio Astronomy Telescope.

She noted that when the facility is converted, it would assist in training astronomers and astrophysicists as well as serve as a research facility in the field of radio astronomy in Ghana and the sub-region.

“Currently none of the universities in Ghana is running the programmes in astronomy and astrophysics and this project would kick-start a Graduate and Post-graduate course in that branch of science,” she said, stressing that the project will also enhance training in other related engineering programmes such as system engineering, radio engineering and space technology.

She listed some of the merits to be derived from the project to include the opportunities for the youth, scientists, engineers and collaboration in joint projects with renowned universities and research institutions around the world.

The Ghana Radio Astronomy project, the Minister said, is one of the key programmes of the soon to be established Ghana Space Science and Technology Centre.

In his comment, the acting Managing Director, National Research Foundation of South Africa, Dr Michael Gaylard, said Ghana had a strategic location, which made it easy to view the entire Milky Way but Ghana could not host the SKA because it was in the tropics.

South Africa, he said, in conjunction with eight other African-partnering countries bidding communally for the SKA, would pull out all the stops to show the world that Africa is the future, as far as science and technology are concerned over bridging the gap between Africa and the rest of the world.

Ms Adelaide Asante, Schedule Officer for the Project, said the project would develop human capital in the area of astronomy and related subjects and thereby make the best use of opportunities in astronomy and astrophysics.

The telescope will also be used to anchor the positions of relative position measuring systems, such as the Global positioning System (GPS) and Satellite Laser Ranging system, which would provide absolute reference points for Ghana’s survey systems.

She noted it is expected to provide long baselines to radio telescope arrays in Africa and other continents to ensure high angular resolution imaging.

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1 comment:

Isabel said...

Ghana's reference points would be more accurate with the conversion of the earth station to radio astronomy center.

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