The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) had acquired its first functional radio telescope worth over N44 million to aid Astronomy research and studies in the country.
Director, Centre for Basic Space Science and Astronomy (CBSSA), Dr Bonaventure Okere, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Okere said that the concerns to get the telescope came following the desire to build critical mass of Astronomers who would play major roles in the emerging astronomy growth in Africa.
He said: “Astronomy as a science seeks to explain everything that we observe in the universe, the comets and planets in our solar system to distant galaxies and the echoes of the Big Bang.
“By studying the cosmos beyond our own planet, we can understand where we came from, where we are going, and how physics works under conditions which are impossible to recreate on Earth.
“In astronomy, the universe is our laboratory and our quest has been to be part of this universal laboratory, hence all the efforts to set up instruments to study and understand the universe in which we live in.
“The goal of setting up this Telescope is to provide a vector for socio-economic development, in addition to fostering the next generation of radio astronomers in Nigeria and across Africa.
“The effort of NASRDA has resulted in the successful acquisition and installation of the first functional 3.7m Radio Telescope in Nigeria, at the CBSSA office in Nsukka, Enugu State.”
According to Okere, the telescope costs 45,000 British Pounds lamenting that after the vandalism of the first 10m Radio telescope installed by a team of Engineers and Scientists at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, efforts had been there to get another.
He said the telescope had been installed by a team of Nigerian Engineers and Scientists and caliberated for full functionality, noting “It can be used for astronomy education, astronomy research, satellite tracking, among other purposes.”
“Our plan is to add three or more of the same size of telescope for interferometry, a measurement method using the phenomenon of interference of waves,” Okere said.
Okere said that they got support from collaborators which included: Global Emerging Radio Astronomy Foundation (GERAF) Canada, Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Canada.
Others, he said, were: North West University (NWU), Potchefstroom, South Africa, African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and some individuals, including Astronomy students.(NAN)