SKA Telescope Shows Africa Can Compete In Science Research

SKA Telescope Shows Africa Can Compete In Science Research

From SABC. Story by Horisani Sithole.

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope will enable African scientists to demonstrate to the world that the continent can host one of the world’s largest science research projects, says Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister.

She spoke at the third annual meeting of the nine SKA African partner countries, which include South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

The meeting allows delegates to get updated on the SKA’s progress. Once completed, the SKA will have 3,000 giant satellite dishes with 70 percent of them in South Africa and the rest in Australia and other African countries.

The aim is to discover some of science’s unanswered questions, such as what happened before creation and if there is life out there.

“When the full SKA is built in the African continent and in Australia, the amount of data flowing in that instrument will be the same as the amount of data in the entire current Internet,” said Project Director Rob Adams.

“We will show the world that Africa can handle a large research infrastructure project,” Pandor said. “We will show the world that excellence will come from the African continent.”

Delegates believe the project will enable for the partner countries to position themselves in the new technological world.

Ghana plans to implement a SKA communications strategy to educate people about the benefits of this project.

Mauritius Minister of Education and Human Resources Leela Devi DookunLuchoomun said the country has been preparing for the SKA project in terms of infrastructure. “As far as human capital development is concerned, we are going fast. The University of Mauritius has started … training Ph.D. students in the field of astronomy and technology.”

Since the beginning of the project, about 820 students have been funded including 140 from the African countries.

Botswana Science and Technology Minister Nonofo Molefhi said the SKA will benefit not only scientists but will also help address socio-economic challenges.

“Analysis of the atmosphere (will provide) information that could help those in the climate change space, ” Molefhi said.

Twenty one of the 64 Meerkat test dishes for the SKA are expected to be operating by June.

Read more at SABC.