News

Published 16 October 2019

DARA Related

Senior officials and experts concluded the 6th Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Africa Partner Countries Meeting on Monday, 14 October 2019, noting progress in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) and other astronomy initiatives aimed at the development of astronomy in the nine African SKA partner countries. 

Partner countries were unanimous in their appreciation of the partnership opportunities made available under the United Kingdom-South Africa Newton Fund cooperation framework, which had resulted in initiatives such as the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) and DARA big data training programmes.  Since 2013, 123 students have received training under the DARA Project.

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Published September 2019

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is the world’s largest radio telescope. It is hosted by South Africa in collaboration with eight African partners and Australia. The Development for Africa through Radio Astronomy (DARA) project is using SKA as a catalyst to promote STEM education and economic development in the region.

Read the full Newton Fund Article

Willice Obonyo's first research paper published in the Royal Astronomical Society Journal

7 May 2019

We are pleased to announce that Willice Obonyo, DARA Advanced Student studying at the University of Leeds, has had his first research paper publish in the Royal Astronomical Society.  This paper is also the first to be published by a DARA funded student! Congratulations Willice.

 

A search for non-thermal radio emission from jets of massive young stellar objects

W O Obonyo,  S L Lumsden,  M G Hoare,  S J D Purser, S E Kurtz,  K G Johnston

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 486, Issue 3, July 2019, Pages 3664–3684

Published: 18 April 2019

https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz1091

Kingsley Ahenkora-Duodu: Resolving global challenges

Published March 2019

DARA Related

Kingsley, a University of Leeds PhD researcher from Ghana, was among the first group of students selected for the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy programme (DARA) and has been appointed as the National Point of Contact for Ghana for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.

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Published 3 December 2018

DARA related

In this Better Satellite World episode of the SSPI Podcast, Lou Zacharilla speaks with DARA (Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy), one of the three 2018 Better Satellite World Award winners.

Published 2 November 2018

DARA advanced student Isaac Mutie from University of Manchester attended the 2018 Sir Arthur Clarke Awards dinner at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on 1st November.

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Published 26 October 2018

Award recognises DARA’s role bringing space science, technology and training to developing economies; building a sustainable foundation for producing home-grown talent

26th October 2018 – Cornwall and Leeds, UK – A team including satellite communications innovator Goonhilly Earth Station and a consortium of universities and institutes led by the University of Leeds’ School of Physics and Astronomy today announced that they have won a Better Satellite World Award for the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project.

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Published 25 October 2018

The current DARA Advanced Training students in the UK gathered at Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall on 17-18 October 2018. During the two-day meeting they each presented the work they are doing during their Masters or PhD research projects with the aim of building links between the African students both now and when they return.

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Published 21 October 2018

On 2nd October 2018 some of the DARA Advanced students joined those from the related Big Data projects in Africa and Colombia for the first Fanaroff Lecture held at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.

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DARA: 2018-19 Basic Training Programme - Ghana kicks-off this year's programme

3 October 2018

The basic training programme is now in its four year and we are looking forward to welcoming 60+ students to the programme.  We would also like to welcome our new partner, Ghana Space Science & Technology Institute (GSSTI) - Ghana, and are pleased to report that in September 2018 GSSTI successfully hosted its first unit 1 course.

February 2018

DARA related

DARA Big Data: A UK-Africa Data Science Network

November 2017

Professor Anna Scaife, University of Manchester

 

DARA is pleased to announce an extension to the existing DARA program: DARA Big Data, designed to capture the data intensive side of radio astronomy. Applications are now open for the DARA Big Data Advanced Training Programme, which will fully fund four 3-year PhD studentships and two 1-year MSc studentships in the UK for students from AVN countries.

With a revolution in digital processing over the last decade, radio astronomy has become one of the most data intensive research areas in science. Historically, radio astronomy has been at the forefront of technological development for data and the future of radio astronomy looks no different, with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) forecast as one of the world's biggest Big Data engines.

The DARA Big Data programme will focus on the data intensive aspects of science: data analysis, data visualisation & data systems and tools. However, we predict that developments in these areas will not only provide advances for astronomy science (Astro Big Data) but can have impact across a range of research fields. Consequently, DARA Big Data will also look at translating data intensive techniques between different fields where Big Data expertise is needed. This first round of the DARA Big Data programme will therefore also offer projects in Food Security/Sustainable Agriculture (Agri Big Data) and in Healthcare (Health Big Data). The cohort will be encouraged to collaborate across research areas in order to maximise the translation of expertise between fields.

We are now inviting applications for the first UK round of DARA Big Data studentships, which will fully fund four 3-year PhD studentships and two 1-year MSc studentships in the UK for students from AVN countries. Students will be expected to start their research projects before 31 March 2018. The bursary includes all tuition fees, bench fees and maintenance allowance, and for PhD students it also includes an annual trip back to their home country to build links with institutions and industries that are looking to develop data intensive methodologies. This will encourage the students and hosts to work together to ensure that positions are available once they are qualified to return to their home countries and help drive development. Applications close on 30 November 2017.

Advanced Programme 2017-18 Awards

November 2017

DARA is pleased to announce that the selection process for the phase 2 UK advanced programme is complete.  The UK steering committee all agreed that the standard was high and the decision had been a difficult one. After much discussion the bursaries have now been awarded in the form of 5 PhD and 1 MSc. 

 

Soon after January 2018 the students will start their studies in the UK.  The bursary includes all tuition fees, bench fees and maintenance allowance, and for PhD students it also includes an annual trip back to their home country to build links with institutions that are looking to host radio astronomy groups. This will encourage the students and hosts to work together to ensure that positions are available once they are qualified to return to their home countries and help drive development. 

Finally we would like to thank all applicants for their interest in joining the advanced programme.

Inauguration of the 32m Radio Telescope - Ghana

October 2017

Professor Melvin Hoare, University of Leeds

 

Prof Melvin Hoare attended the inauguration of the 32m radio telescope of the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory in Accra. The telescope was officially opened by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana.  This was the culmination of several years’ work by a joint South African and Ghanaian team to convert the defunct ex-telecommunications dish into a functioning radio telescope. Melvin has been running a Royal Society funded research and training project to complement the conversion for 3 years, training 25 Ghanaians in the basics of radio astronomy. Melvin also supervises two PhD students studying at the University of Ghana.

 

The training project has since grown with the allocation of nearly £4M of Newton Fund grants to run similar training programmes in eight African countries – the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy project (www.dara-project.org/).  DARA is a collaboration with five other UK universities, all of which are also involved in a project to convert 30 m class ex-telecommunication dishes at Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall. These will be used for research and to provide Leeds undergraduates with hands-on training in radio astronomy. The eight African countries will all eventually get a radio dish too, and these will work together as an interferometer network.  In the longer term they will join with South Africa in hosting the mid-frequency part of the Square Kilometre Array that envisages 2000 dishes spread over sub-Saharan Africa (www.ska.ac.za).

Newly EU funded initiative - JUMPING JIVE

January 2017

Robert Beswick, University of Manchester

 

Working in tandem with DARA to develop Radio Astronomy in Africa

 

Starting at the beginning of 2017 a newly funded Horizon2020 EU infrastructure initiative, dubbed JUMPING JIVE (‘Joining up Users for Maximising the Profile, the Innovation and the Necessary Globalisation of JIVE’) will be teaming up with DARA to bring in European expertise and support for the development of Radio Astronomy in Africa. These two partner projects will build upon each other’s expertise to provide enhanced training and development thus maximising the impact of both projects.

The JUMPING JIVE project which brings together twelve leading European institutes from 8 different countries has been awarded nearly 3 million euro by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the EU for the next 4 years. The project is led by JIVE, the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC, located in Dwingeloo (the Netherlands), and commenced in December 2016.

Over the past decades, JIVE and the European VLBI Network (EVN) have built a strong tradition of innovation and pan-European collaboration in the field of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). With this technique, astronomers can use telescopes thousands of kilometres apart to study radio sources with extremely high resolution. Over the 23 years of its existence, JIVE has pushed the scientific capabilities of the EVN, and has become a centre of excellence in supporting scientists from around the world.

JUMPING JIVE is bringing together European and global experts to define the necessary scientific drivers and technical innovations required to enhance VLBI activities both in Europe and beyond. This programme provides resources for the integration of new telescopes into the existing network including those in Africa, expanding the functionality of the EVN correlator at JIVE, and the further development of operational interfaces and software. The JUMPING JIVE project aims to contribute towards a truly global VLBI facility - advancing radio astronomy, geodesy and space science applications of VLBI and establishing of new interface standards for global use. The programme includes substantial contributions to the preparation toward the integration of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as a powerful additional element to the global VLBI network, via the appointment of a dedicated SKA-VLBI scientist to engage and interface between the SKA organisation and VLBI communities to lay the foundations for joint observations.

 

Importantly, JUMPING JIVE also supports the development of the African VLBI Network (AVN) and the work underway via the STFC Newton-fund DARA programme. This is an important endorsement from the EU of the value and importance of the work of the DARA programme. The WP9 of JUMPING JIVE, led by Beswick (Manchester), is working in very close collaboration with the DARA project to supply additional expertise and resources to the training and development activities.  In particular JUMPING JIVE will provide access to the pool of technical VLBI operational expertise in many European institutes who have been pioneering VLBI operations over a many decades. This new EU-UK-African collaboration is providing an important framework for the development of the AVN and its future operations with the EVN and ultimately the SKA. The future formation of the AVN, via the refurbishment of ex-communication dishes along with new-build telescopes, is internationally recognised as a vital part of the world’s astronomy infrastructure and will boost the sensitivity and resolution of global VLBI networks, especially for targets in the Southern celestial hemisphere. The work of both JUMPING JIVE and DARA to develop the human resources in African countries is a vital step toward the realisation and sustainability of this goal.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730884.

Welcome Cohort 2016-7

November 2016

The project has successfully recruited basic training programme students in Kenya, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. The students will attend four intense two week training units.

Extended Project

DARA successfully passed its mid-term review and has secured funding for a further two years starting from April 2017.  This extension enables the project to continue the basic and advance training programme for a further two years.

Additional Newton Funds

We are pleased to announce that the project has been awarded additional funds for the first DARA Big Data Summer School and an additional UK MSc bursary.

First Cohort Training Programme Complete

The first student cohort in Kenya and Zambia has successfully completed the basic training programme that consisted of four intensive two-week courses. This year long programme provided an introduction to astrophysics and radio astronomy.

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