Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy Phase 2

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

We will conduct a training programme in radio astronomy in Africa that will help to drive economic growth. South Africa is hosting part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) - the major next generation radio telescope and the first big science project on the African continent. A network of up to 2000 dishes will eventually spread out across southern Africa to give the telescope its powerful resolution to see small structures in the sky. To this aim South Africa is partnering with eight other countries in Africa that will host these outstations. However, there is virtually no astronomy activity in these countries at present and so SKA-SA are building the African VLBI Network (AVN) as a precursor instrument and very useful addition to the world's radio astronomy networks in its own right. The AVN will consist of 30 m class radio dishes in each partner country, either converted from defunct telecommunications dishes or newly built ones. The UK team has experience in the conversion of old telecommunications dishes for radio astronomy purposes through its involvement in a similar project at the Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall.

The UK team, together with SA colleagues, will provide a basic training in the AVN countries so that the local people can use and help run the radio telescopes there. The STEM skills learnt as part of this training can be applied to a range of industries such as telecommunications, space science, land management and computing. Therefore the training will result in a pool of local talent who can help to drive economic growth in the AVN countries. An integral part of the training programme will be interaction with entrepreneurs who have experience of setting up businesses using related technologies. Advanced training will take the form of a number of MSc and PhD bursaries. The students will undertake research training using the interferometric radio telescopes and spend time in both the UK and SA to help forge strong research links. A virtual centre of excellence will be established that pulls the various strands of training, research and industry together.

Showcasing the radio astronomy facilities in these countries and demonstrating how the skills and technologies used in radio astronomy can be applied to many areas of industry and commerce can lead to a general upskilling of the population.

Planned Impact

Industries in the AVN countries that rely on having people with advanced STEM knowledge and with drive and ambition will benefit from this programme through having a pool of trained and motivated individuals. Overall this programme aims to provide a basic training for 240 young people across Africa and an advanced training to 13 students. As in any country not all of these will go on to become academics, the majority will go into industry and commerce taking their advanced knowledge and skills with them. Economic activity as a whole will benefit as some of these people start their own businesses inspired by the entrepreneurs they have met during the training programme. These could be in diverse fields such as telecommunications, space science, geodetic applications such as land management or climate change, or computing and big data challenges. Showcasing the hosting of major international scientific facilities such as the AVN and SKA on the African continent will raise the aspiration of the population as Africa demonstrates that it can take its place on the modern scientific stage in the 21st century.

Publications

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Bowler Sue (2017) Africa: radio astronomy for development in Astronomy and Geophysics

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Hoare M (2018) UK aid for African radio astronomy in Nature Astronomy

 
Description STFC GCRF Foundation
Amount £344,896 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/R002878/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2019
 
Description STFC Official Development Assistance (ODA) Institutional Award
Amount £130,000 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description DARA 
Organisation Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory
Country South Africa 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation North-West University
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation Rhodes University
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Africa
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of Cape Town
Department Department of Astronomy
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of Central Lancashire
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of Hertfordshire
Department Centre for Astrophysics Research (CAR)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of South Florida
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description DARA 
Organisation University of the Western Cape
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This partnership has come together to deliver training in radio astronomy to countries in Africa that are part of the African VLBI Network. Hoare leads the project and the project is managed from Leeds. Leeds organised the recruitment of PhD/MSc students for UK partners.
Collaborator Contribution Staff from collaborating institutions are delivering some of the training in Africa. All UK partners will be hosting PhD or MSc students from the participating African countries.
Impact Basic training in astrophysics and radio astronomy completed for 20 students each from Kenya and Zambia and 6 students from Namibia/Botswana. Basic training started for third cohorts in Kenya and Zambia a, second joint cohort of 10 from Namibia and Botswana and new cohorts of 10 students each from Madagascar and Mozambique. These trainees have also received training in astronomy for development. They have learnt about the related opportunities in space science and applications of geodesy to fields such as geophysics, land management, GPS, orbit changes and climate change. 3 PhD and 4 MSc students have commenced study in the UK. Clusters of 10 computers have been installed in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar. A pulsar backend has been constructed at the University of Manchester ready for installation on the new converted 32 m radio antenna in Ghana.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Astronomy and Geophysics article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An article on DARA was written for the Astronomy and Geophysics - house magazine for the Royal Astronomical Society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://academic.oup.com/astrogeo/article/58/3/3.29/3861226
 
Description Joint media statement on the outcomes of the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African Partner Countries 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact DARA was highlighted in the joint media statement on the outcomes of the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African Partner Countries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.dst.gov.za/index.php/media-room/latest-news/2653-joint-media-statement-on-the-outcomes-o...
 
Description Merseyside Astronomy Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Hoare presented a talk on DARA and African radio astronomy at the Merseyside Astronomy Day 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description NatureJobs Blog - Isaac 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A DARA MSc student wrote about his experiences in NatureJobs blog.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2018/02/28/african-astronomy-and-how-one-student-broke-into-the-f...
 
Description NatureJobs Blog - Naomi 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article by DARA PhD student in NatureJobs blog about her experiences as a DARA student.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2018/02/26/a-student-shaping-the-future-of-african-astronomy/
 
Description Pint of Science Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Hoare presented a talk on DARA and African radio astronomy at a Pint of Science event in Leeds in April 2018. About 40 members of the general public were present and there was a good discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presidential launch of Ghana telescope 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The President of Ghana inaugurated the newly converted radio antenna in Ghana. During his speech he announced a four-fold increase in spending on science in Ghana and explicitly made the link between space science and economic development. This was a major media event with coverage world wide. Prof Hoare attended on behalf of DARA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://presidency.gov.gh/index.php/2017/08/24/president-akufo-addo-launches-ghana-radio-astronomy-ob...
 
Description Science in Parliament article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Hoare wrote an article on DARA for the Science in Parliament magazine Winter 2018 edition that is circulated to MPs in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.scienceinparliament.org.uk/
 
Description Times Higher Education article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An article on the DARA project was written with input from Prof Hoare for the Times Higher Education newspaper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/africa-calling-stars-sky-and-greater-good
 
Description Tour of Ghanaian Universities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Prof Hoare and a DARA PhD student conducted a tour of 6 Ghanaian universities to advertise the work of the DARA project and publicise the opportunities for students in the area of radio astronomy and development in Ghana.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://ucc.edu.gh/news/students-asked-embrace-study-astronomy
 
Description UK Space article on DARA SSPI award 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The award of the SSPI Better Satellite World award was covered by UK Space and numerous other space industry new outlets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ukspace.org/news-item/dara-project-wins-better-satellite-world-award
 
Description University of Namibia web article 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact An article for the University of Namibia website on the basic training programme taking part there.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.unam.edu.na/news/building-capacity-in-radio-astronomy-in-namibia