Gamsberg Mt to house first African millimetre telescope

16 Apr 2019 19:50pm
WINDHOEK, 16 APR (NAMPA) – University teams in Namibia and the Netherlands are spearheading the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) project to erect the first radio telescope operating in the mm-wavelength on the Gamsberg Mountains.
The Gamsberg Mountains are located in central Namibia.
The partners include the University of Namibia’s Department of Physics and the Department of Astrophysics at Radboud University in Nijmegen (RU) in the Netherlands.
Speaking in an interview with Nampa here on Tuesday, Project Scientist for AMT in the Department of Physics at UNAM, Dr Michael Backes said he is particularly interested in studying active galaxies, black holes and the chemical composition of the Milky Way galaxy, which is centrally located above the southern African region.
He explained that as an alternative to purchasing a brand new telescope, they would dismantle a sub-millimetre telescope from Chile, which is currently not being used and send it to be refurbished at the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique, an international research institute for radio astronomy and the manufacturer of that telescope.
Backes added that they already discussed with UNAM’s Department of Electronic Engineering to send people from that department to join the refurbishing team in France.
He noted that the AMT project would need trained people, and make provision to train people at the technician-engineering level, to maintain and solve problems with the telescope, the science level and data analysis levels to deal with big data.
UNAM, he continued currently has a strong emphasis on electives in the field of Astrophysics and in the field of Computational Physics, at the postgraduate level in its Masters of Physics programme.
“In that regard the needed framework is there. We are currently in curriculum review for undergraduate degrees where we currently have one module on Astrophysics in fourth year and we’re planning to introduce another more basic one in second year and maybe a second one in fourth year,” Backes explained.