US$14 million for radio telescope network development

radiotelescope_flickrThe radio telescopes will used to create high-resolution observations of astronomical objects. (Image Source: Amandabhslater/Flickr)The Board of African Renaissance Fund has approved US$14 million for the first stage of radio telescope network construction in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African partner countries

The South African government has approved the allocation for the immediate construction of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network.

"We are happy that our continent will now receive astronomy research facilities to advance the emergence of the African knowledge economy," said South African science and technology minister Naledi Pandor.

The African VLBI Network (AVN) will use radio telescopes at various locations in the country to create high-resolution observations of astronomical objects.

The Department of Science and Technology said that the resolution would be determined by the separation distance of telescopes. The greater the separation distance, the greater the resolution and a network that uses the large North-South advantage, for example, in Africa, will make it a powerful VLBI.

"This radio telescope funding is supported by the development of human capital, from technician level to post-doctoral fellowships. The growth of Africa as a global astronomy hub is a shared vision of African countries to use the increasingly available broadband infrastructure for research and economic benefits," said Pandor.

DST chief director of Radio Astronomy Advances, Tshepo Seekoe, said the AVN was expected to encourage co-location with research and monitoring facilities like global positioning system stations, automated climate change monitoring weather stations, and seismic activity warning systems.

Meanwhile, the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) held a meet recently on funding opportunities for African-European radio astronomy joint ventures.

The workshop was attended by members of the European parliament, officials of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, as well as leading African and European astronomers.

The aim was to discuss how to further develop cooperation in radio astronomy between Africa and Europe.

The meet saw an elaboration of the next steps to establish a dedicated AERAP vehicle to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

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