Dr Bonaventure Okere, the Director of the Centre for Basic Space Science and Astronomy (CBSSA), revealed that the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has successfully acquired its inaugural operational radio telescope, valued above NGN 44 million (USD 58,007). This significant development aims to support astronomy research and studies within the country. According to him, the decision to obtain the telescope was driven by the aspiration to cultivate a substantial group of Astronomers who would actively contribute to the burgeoning growth of astronomy in Africa.
“Astronomy, as a scientific discipline, endeavours to elucidate all phenomena observed in the universe, ranging from comets and planets within our solar system to distant galaxies and the reverberations of the Big Bang. Consequently, the establishment of this Telescope is geared towards catalysing socio-economic progress while also nurturing the upcoming generation of radio astronomers in Nigeria and throughout Africa. As a result of the dedicated efforts by NASRDA, they have successfully acquired and installed Nigeria’s first operational 3.7m Radio Telescope at the CBSSA office in Nsukka, Enugu State”, Dr Bonaventure commented.
He expressed his regret over the vandalism of the initial 10m Radio Telescope, installed by a team of skilled engineers and scientists at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Despite the setback caused by this incident, continuous efforts have been made to acquire a replacement.
“We envision this telescope to serve a wide range of applications, including astronomy education, astronomy research, and satellite tracking,” stated Okere. “Our strategic goal is to expand our capabilities by incorporating three or more telescopes of the same size, enabling interferometry—a measurement technique that harnesses the phenomenon of wave interference.”
The Director mentioned that they received valuable support from various collaborators, including the Global Emerging Radio Astronomy Foundation (GERAF) in Canada, the Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Canada, North West University (NWU) in Potchefstroom, South Africa, the African Astronomical Society (AfAS), and several individuals, including enthusiastic astronomy students.