University of Hertfordshire

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Description

We will conduct a training programme in radio astronomy in Africa that will help to drive economic growth. South Africa is hosting part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) - the major next generation radio telescope and the first big science project on the African continent. A network of up to 2000 dishes will eventually spread out across southern Africa to give the telescope its powerful resolution to see small structures in the sky. To this aim South Africa is partnering with eight other countries in Africa that will host these outstations. However, there is virtually no astronomy activity in these countries at present and so SKA-SA are building the African VLBI Network (AVN) as a precursor instrument and very useful addition to the world's radio astronomy networks in its own right. The AVN will consist of 30 m class radio dishes in each partner country, either converted from defunct telecommunications dishes or newly built ones. The UK team has experience in the conversion of old telecommunications dishes for radio astronomy purposes through its involvement in a similar project at the Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall.

The UK team, together with SA colleagues, will provide a basic training in the AVN countries so that the local people can use and help run the radio telescopes there. The STEM skills learnt as part of this training can be applied to a range of industries such as telecommunications, space science, land management and computing. Therefore the training will result in a pool of local talent who can help to drive economic growth in the AVN countries. An integral part of the training programme will be interaction with entrepreneurs who have experience of setting up businesses using related technologies. Advanced training will take the form of a number of MSc and PhD bursaries. The students will undertake research training using the interferometric radio telescopes and spend time in both the UK and SA to help forge strong research links. A virtual centre of excellence will be established that pulls the various strands of training, research and industry together.

Showcasing the radio astronomy facilities in these countries and demonstrating how the skills and technologies used in radio astronomy can be applied to many areas of industry and commerce can lead to a general upskilling of the population.
Short titleDARA 2
AcronymDARA 2
StatusActive
Period1/04/1731/03/21

ID: 15034912