News / Science & Technology

Kenya Repurposing Satellite Dishes for Space Exploration

FILE - Radio telescope dishes of the KAT-7 Array at the proposed South African site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope near Carnavon in the country's remote Northern Cape province, May 17, 2012.
FILE - Radio telescope dishes of the KAT-7 Array at the proposed South African site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope near Carnavon in the country's remote Northern Cape province, May 17, 2012.
The construction of a huge radio telescope in South Africa is giving a boost to the science and space industries in Kenya.  The country’s top space physicist says telecommunication companies are leasing out their now-obsolete satellite dishes for use in the new project.

Several African countries are working to build a large radio telescope known as the Square Kilometer Array, or SKA.  The core station will be in South Africa, while other countries across the continent - Ghana, Mauritius, Botswana and Kenya - will host nodes that will operate together.

Professor Paul Baki, head of pure and applied science at the Technical University of Kenya, is looking for land to build on in the east African country.  Baki says Kenya's node of the SKA needs about one square kilometer of land that is free from electronic interference.

“At the moment we are doing site survey to locate radio telescope, because you need a radio quiet zone that is an area where you don’t get TV signals, you don’t get mobile phone signals, and so forth," he said. "You have to block it out over a specific area so that what you only receive is from outer space.  It's because of that signal from outer space that will be used, that we shall use to look back in time and see how the universe evolved from the initial instant up to date." .

Baki established a training program in basic space science at the university in 2004, with the help of the International Astronomical Union.

As part of the project, he and his colleagues are converting old satellite dishes, previously used for telecommunications, to work with the radio telescope.

“Telescopes are expensive to construct but its much easier to convert an existing facility like telecom dishes which are no longer used because of fiber optics.  With the arrival of fiber optics we no longer rely on satellite communication that much to transmit signals," he said.

The telecom dishes have to be reconfigured because the kind of signals they were made to receive are strong, while the signals coming from space are extremely weak.

“You combine signals from a number of these dishes and then with that you can be able to look up in space, identify an object of choice that you can use for positioning measurements on the surface of the earth," Baki said. "And this is very useful for surveying applications also for navigation of the aircraft.  So when we develop our potential and capacity in that area I think we shall have moved a step ahead in terms of tapping space technology for basic applications."

Baki says in addition to learning more about the universe, the project can also help with infrastructure development in Kenya, and will create jobs in the tech industry.

Scientists hope to expand the Kenyan space program to include the development of satellites that would be launched into orbit from a Kenya-based station.

The country previously had a launch station in the sea off the coast of Malindi which is no longer operational.  Baki says they want to re-establish one on land, taking advantage of a strategically prime location near the equator.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More