Radio astronomy can bring industrial and scientific revolution

With the establishment of radio astronomical telescopes in Pakistan, along with the promotion of scientific research, the economy will also be able to sustain itself.  (Photo: File)

With the establishment of radio astronomical telescopes in Pakistan, along with the promotion of scientific research, the economy will also be able to sustain itself. (Photo: File)

Although Pakistan is a country with the capability of nuclear and missile technology, but in other areas of science and technology such as space technology and exploration, semiconductor, antenna designing, radio frequency (RF) engineering, high standard computing and astronomy, we are still lacking. are far behind.

However, radio astronomy is a versatile field in which, with research and development, Pakistan can enhance its capabilities in telecommunications, defense, medical imaging and big data sciences.

What is radio astronomy?

We know that many celestial bodies emit light, generate heat, but they also emit radio waves. These range from stars to nebulae and from pulsars to black holes. This is why radio astronomy is an interesting and relatively inexpensive method of cosmic research. On the other hand, the same technology has led to other practical sciences and many industrial benefits have been achieved.

For example, one potentially interesting aspect of radio astronomy is Wi-Fi technology. As it happened, Australia’s national space agency, CSIRO, devised ways to collect the scattered radio signals coming from black holes, and that’s how we got Wi-Fi technology. Similarly, data acquisition in radio astronomy is similar to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is used in medicine to image diseases and is saving millions of lives.

Radio astronomy has so many facets that it opens up new chapters of collaboration and innovation among scientists from different fields. For example, Pakistani universities can start amateur radio astronomy projects with encouragement and some funding. This will provide new platforms for students to learn and gain self-confidence and thus pave the way for new celestial discoveries.
Now to put it in a broader context, Pakistan’s National Space Agency and its associated agencies (SPARCO, NCGSA, IST and SPA etc.) along with other communication institutions are jointly conducting international radio astronomy programs in the country. At least one quality research institute must be established. An example of this is the ‘Giant Meter Wave Radio Telescope’ (GMRT) in India, which is very inexpensive compared to radio observatories around the world.

National Center for Physics (NCP) in the country, HEJ Research Institute for Chemistry in Islamabad, Karachi and other institutes can also extend their support for their respective scientific objectives. Many scientific institutions of the country can collaborate between the interdisciplinary fields of astrophysics, astroparticle physics, astrochemistry, astrobiology, solar physics and exoplanet research depending on their fields and interests. This could usher in an era of research and development cooperation between national institutions that is adopted to accelerate scientific progress around the world. Thus, there is a great need for research collaboration between scientific institutions in the country.

Emerging countries such as India’s Giant Meter Wave Radio Telescope (GMRT), and South Africa have launched projects such as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). The SKA project is expected to create thousands of new jobs along with the development of new industries and technology. Now 8 more African countries are becoming part of SKA, with remote stations. In this way, it will not only be possible for institutions of different countries to collaborate in scientific research, but such scientific efforts will also be useful for future generations and it is very likely that it will also change the world’s perception of Africa. .

There is no doubt that the collaboration between various institutions has led to wonderful examples of scientific progress. Then the participating countries in SKA will also get an advantage that their researchers and experts will go to America, Europe, China, Australia and India etc. and help to increase their potential capacity.

Bright prospects of radio interferometry in Balochistan

“Radiointerferometry” is a method in radio astronomy in which the information or data from many radio telescopes is gathered into one place. Balochistan province has such excellent and quiet places which due to lack of population can be termed as “radio quiet areas”. An array of telescopes can be built at this location. Then all the telescopes can be linked with the radio interferometer technique to advance this field of astronomy.

Keeping the central position of Balochistan province, small radio observatories can be established in other areas of Pakistan. All of these can be combined into a large and powerful interferometer. This would have the advantage of being able to take very detailed (high resolution) images with modern astronomical technology. In this way, a wonderful technological form of the neglected Balochistan will also come to light.

Although it will require investment, the benefits will be huge. This will increase international cooperation, interdisciplinary research will flourish and experts from different fields will move towards a common goal. Above all, a new door of joint scientific research will open in the country.

Balochistan and Astronomy

For the success of the project, it is necessary to recruit experts, staff and technicians from Balochistan province itself. At the second stage, other regions of the country should be contacted. The project is expected to take a smaller form, similar to the European nuclear research center CERN. CERN has not only promoted modern science and technology across Europe, but is also benefiting future generations. It has also led to the emergence of new innovations and technologies.

Pakistan must strive to ensure that the astronomical telescopes it develops are of international standards, including the SKA and the International Event Horizon Telescope (ETH). The ETH is a virtually Earth-sized telescope that stunned the world with its first direct image of a black hole in 2019.

The collaboration of such projects will lead to the development of scientific instruments in the country, which includes important factors such as designing and manufacturing. Similarly, we will be able to achieve high performance computing and signal processing capabilities. Thus technology and highly skilled manpower will be available.

Under this new antenna and RF engineering will benefit many industries of the country. These include telecommunication, defense, medical imaging and other industries. Since radio astronomy involves sophisticated antenna and RF engineering, this technology can be applied to other industries. Interestingly, after achieving the capacity, international assistance and funding avenues will also open up for Pakistan.

It should be noted that the destination of economic development and prosperity goes through science and technology and as Muslims, our elders have done valuable work in this field. Science and modern sciences are our lost heritage.

But the question is, where will the money for these big projects come from? On the one hand, redundant assets or loss-making institutions such as Pakistan Steel Mill or PIA can be sold partially or completely, on the other hand, it can be given to the private sector. Can be encouraged. Then the private sector can be enticed to invest by offering tax breaks. But it can lead to a better future of science and technology.

It is expected that this will not only enable us to become a part of the global knowledge economy but also include ourselves among the scientifically powerful nations.

Note: Express News and its policy do not necessarily agree with the views of this blogger.

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