Ghana’s Radio Astronomy Observatory -On Thursday, August 24, 2017, President Nana Addo launched the Ghana Astronomy Radio Observatory at Kuntunse in the Greater Accra Region.
The President described the development as the beginning of a new era in the country’s quest to harness the potential of space science and technology for accelerated national development.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center of the United States National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc for the purpose of radio astronomy. NRAO designs, builds, and operates its own high sensitivity radio telescopes for use by scientists around the world.
A 32-meter wide (104-foot) radio telescope, converted from an old telecommunications dish, forms the heart of the observatory, which is in Kuntunse, about an hour from the capital Accra.
Until the conversion of the Kuntunse telecoms dish, South Africa was the only African country with radio telescopes that linked to other countries. These telescopes connected to European networks, but there was a gaping hole in coverage over the rest of Africa.
These telescopes connected to European networks, but there was a gaping hole in coverage over the rest of Africa. With the inclusion of the Ghanaian telescope, global radio astronomy networks will be able to see the universe in greater detail than before.
Ghana’s Radio Astronomy Observatory makes her the first partner country of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometer Network (AVN) to complete the conversion of the 32-metre Intelsat Telecommunications Satellite Earth Station into a functioning radio telescope.
At the launch, Nana Addo recounted how, in 2007, the country, under the leadership of President John Agyekum Kufuor, took the bold decision to sign up to the African Square Kilometre Array (SKA) partnership agreement, an agreement spearheaded by South Africa, which involved seven other African countries.
Nana Addo hoped that the integration of this radio telescope into the African Very Long Baseline Interferometer Network, in preparation for the second phase construction of the Square Kilometre Array across the African continent, will be successful.
The director of the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute, Dickson Adomako, said the outfit was pushing to include astronomy in their university curricula to attract students to the discipline.