African partner country students complete AVN training at HartRAO
SARAO News #01 2017
Students from four African SKA partner countries completed training on the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory in Gauteng from 6-24 March 2017.
The 19 participants included postgraduate students in various science and technology related fields of whom 10 were from Zambia, three from Namibia, five from Botswana and one from South Africa.
The training is part of the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project, which seeks to provide people in the targeted countries with training to use radio telescopes.
It also has an outreach programme to encourage young people to study the technological aspects of radio astronomy and pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. The project is funded by the Newton Fund.
During the three weeks the students were lectured and taught on various aspects of radio astronomy and to use radio telescopes within the AVN. The students were hosted at HartRAO and also treated to various social activities and excursions in and around the North West and Gauteng provinces.
This year’s training was the second school hosted at and by HartRAO and plans are underway for hosting it again for the next two years.
Dr Alet de Witt, Operations Astronomer at HartRAO and coordinator of the training programme, says that African postgraduate students with a degree in science and engineering fields are invited to participate in the training school.
“Some of them are already working and some are still studying, but we train them so that they can go back and build the radio astronomy capacity in their own countries,” says De Witt.
Kushatha Kelebeng (27), an MSc student in Computer Science at the Botswana University of Science and Technology says that she finds the course interesting. “Coming from a computer science background, I don’t know much about radio astronomy, but now with this course I have learned a lot of information about radio astronomy and determining how we can perform data mining, which is an area that I am interested in,” she says.
The African VLBI Network (AVN) is a project to build a network by converting redundant satellite Earth-station antennas across Africa to use for radio astronomy.
The AVN will help to develop the skills, regulations and institutional capacity needed in SKA partner countries to optimise African participation in the SKA and enable participation in SKA pathfinder technology development and science.
The AVN programme will transfer skills and knowledge in African partner countries to build, maintain, operate and use radio telescopes. It will bring new science opportunities to Africa on a relatively short time scale and develop radio astronomy science communities in the SKA partner countries.
At the end of the training, the DARA Annual Networking and Steering Committee Meeting was held at the Ekudeni Conference Centre in Gauteng.
The African students who participated in the AVN training at HartRAO in March 2017.
Last Updated on September 7, 2017