Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor unveiled a countrywide advertising and marketing campaign to build up support for the bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in South Africa.
With just a couple of months remaining ahead of the bid winner announcement, the campaign, created around astronomy and the moon as themes, is ready to promote interest in the initiative and demonstrate how Africa is rapidly proving itself to be an international hub of astronomy.
All South Africans are encouraged to join the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in its SKA bid by placing messages of support at http://www.ska.ac.za/endorsements/index.php.
The DST, together with the South African State Theatre, will make use of the remaining months to rally support from communities countrywide to play their part by hosting Full Moon Fever campaign on Fridays, Saturdays or Mondays closest to the full moon.
The launch brings together exhibitions, a laser show, performing arts presentation of African Stars and a night sky view.
On top of that, there will be career exhibitions in collaboration with the Tshwane University of Technology and University of South Africa to spotlight the a variety of fields of science and technology accessible to students and possible career paths with specific focus on astronomy and radio astronomy.
Pandor pointed to South Africa’s perfect environment for radio and optical astronomy and the fact that the country enacted the Astronomy Geographic Act of 2008 to safeguard its astronomy reserves from damaging effects.
Among the many advantages as a result of this was the Southern African Largest Telescope (SALT), the giant facility which has transformed the country into a prime place to go for the world’s scientists and researchers.
“The establishment of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) is a welcome development that has grown to become a crucial vehicle for promoting our expanding satellite industry in addition to a wide range of innovations in space sciences, earth observation, communications, navigation and engineering,” Pandor said.
As part of the African commitment to the SKA project, South Africa is constructing the Karoo Array Telescope, the MeerKAT, in the Northern Cape.
This telescope will be a world-class radio telescope in its own right when finished in 2016.
This precursor is a demonstration telescope of technologies being taken into consideration for the SKA. Phase 1 of MeerKAT, which is KAT-7 (a seven-dish array telescope), is now complete with operations starting in early 2012.