Cambridge Researchers Contribute to African Development with Radio Astronomy

This article was republished from Kavli Institute for Cosmology, Cambridge's website

The organisers of this year’s school

The 2021 African Radio Interferometry Winter School will take place virtually from 28th June to 2nd July. The school is a series of free online workshops presented by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) in collaboration with the Cavendish Laboratory and Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge / REACH project and the Radio Astronomy Techniques and Technology (RATT) 

The African Radio Interferometry Winter School focuses on the theoretical and introductory tutorial aspects of radio interferometry. This workshop will subsequently train the next generation of students and young professionals from South Africa and other African countries. Researchers from the Radio Experiment for the Analysis of Cosmic Hydrogen (REACH) project at Cavendish Astrophysics, Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge and the Institute of Astronomy have helped organise the school. Furthermore, they will be delivering critical lectures on radio cosmology, data analysis and instrument design.

As part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) efforts, REACH is currently building a telescope in the remote semi desertic area of the Karoo in South Africa. Furthermore, REACH is partially funded by the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge, Stellenbosch University and the Cambridge-Africa initiative.

The SKA project will be the largest radio telescope in the world upon its completion in 2028. The UK, and specifically Cambridge, have led the design of many aspects of the telescope for over a decade. This includes software for data analysis, array antennas and low noise electronics, electromagnetic modelling. Consequently, the telescope will revolutionize how we study the sky with unprecedented sensitivity and survey speed. The SKA telescope will aim at unveiling some of the remaining mysteries of the Cosmos. 

As a vast international collaboration with hundreds of highly skilled people working on it, the project also offers many opportunities for broader societal impact, including human capital development in Africa.

Thanks to the SKA, Radio Astronomy has gained prominence in the African continent, especially in South Africa. It has also brought many opportunities to develop critical skills for the next generations, including engineering, science, mathematics, and many others. The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) has led to expanding the impact of radio astronomy and the SKA beyond its most immediate scientific results. SARAO has also put in place, an impressive human capital development programme. The programme will subsequently target the next generation of African leaders in science and technology. This programme includes student bursaries, public events, workshops, schools and many others.

Eloy de Lera Acedo, REACH Principal Investigator, said: “We are extremely proud to be involved with some of the human capital development activities organised by the SARAO and in particular the Winter School”. “This has been hugely inspirational for the REACH researchers, and we look forward to taking part and virtually meeting the hundreds of students already signed up for the school”, he added.

He also added that REACH‘s involvement with human capital development activities would not stop with the school. Thus, according to him, the team is preparing a 3-day Workshop in early 2022. This workshop which will focus on science and technology is under the framework of the activities led by the SARAO. Furthermore, it will allow students to gain a deeper understanding and training on several STEM topics. This includes topics ranging from advanced mathematical modelling, statistics, electronics, digital systems and many more.

The Winter School is no longer open for registration. For more information, visit African Radio Interferometry Winter School – SARAO.

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