SA supports Nam’s bid to host CTA

WINDHOEK: South Africa supports Namibia’s bid to host a Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) which will help scientists tackle questions about astronomy, astrophysics and fundamental physics research.

This is the view of the group executive for South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), Professor Nithaya Chetty.

He said this during a task force meeting held between the two countries on Tuesday.

“Namibia and South Africa will mutually benefit from hosting the CTA in Namibia. Real scientific advantages will be seen, as well as the further development of the country, assisting Africa in becoming a leader in astronomy,” Chetty was quoted as saying in a media statement issued by Namibia’s National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) after the meeting.

If granted, the CTA will be located near Aus in the Karas Region.

Namibia is competing against other potential sites in Argentina and Chile, which hope to host the southern hemisphere portion of the CTA.

A decision on where the CTA will be hosted is due to be taken at a meeting in Munich, Germany from 10 to 11 April 2014.

NCRST Chief Executive Officer, Dr Eino Mvula expressed confidence that Namibia will receive a positive outcome at next week’s meeting in Germany.

“Hosting the CTA will help drive Namibia toward a knowledge-based economy and generate a new breed of scientists from within Namibia, in not only astronomy but other fields of science as well,” he said in the statement.

Mvula noted that hosting the CTA in Namibia will help scientists tackle questions about the origin of cosmic rays and the nature of dark matter, and will potentially assist in developing the host town of Aus and the surrounding area – increasing employment opportunities both directly and indirectly.

The CTA is a global project which has attracted more than 1 000 scientists from 27 countries.

The CTA will be the world’s biggest gamma ray observatory, 10 times more powerful than today’s instruments. It will consist of two arrays, one in each hemisphere.