The Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) was first established as a Centre under the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) in January 2011 and launched in May 2012. It was later upgraded to an Institute in August 2013, to exploit space science and technology for socio-economic development of the country.
The Institute is a state institution mandated to coordinate all space science and technology related programmes and activities in Ghana. GSSTI is re-packaging the existing national capacities, competences, experiences and expertise in space science and related fields to find possible space technology solutions to the problems of Ghana. It has a unique research group and technical persons working assiduously to exploit space science and technology for socio-economic development in Ghana.
Exploring the frontiers of science through particle physics, lies a world of vast unknowns yet conceives great and wonderful secrets of man’s existence and the value for life – Earth and the Space World. Apparently, the birth of the Ghana Space and Technology Institute (GSSTI) in 2011indicates that not only nuclear science is pursued at the premises of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. By its establishment, a unilateral concept of particle physics that binds Space Science and Nuclear Science is demonstrated.
Located on theCampus of the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS), the GSSTI aims at spearheading, coordinating, undertaking and managing the country’s space science projects and research activities. Currently, the GSSTI runs an outreach and space education programme which is aimed at introducing a space science curriculum in the basic schools to the tertiary level in Ghana by the year 2020.
Major ongoing projects in the short and medium term at the GSSTI include:
1. The establishment, operation and hosting of a space observatory known as the Ghana Astronomical Project (GAP) on the African VLBI.
2. Hosting of the GAP on the Square Kilometer Array – SKA Project; South Africa
3. Establishment of a planetarium and Space Science Museum The Ghana Astronomical Project (GAP)
The Ghana Astronomical Project is a bi-phase task, namely GAP-I and GAP-II. GAP-I aims at converting a thirty-two (32) meter abandoned communication satellite at Kuntunse into a radio astronomical telescope/antenna to be linked to the African VLBI network. The GAP-I commenced in March 2011 when a team of
Ghanaian, South African and British experts and partners conducted feasibility studies to replace wornout parts. These were radio astronomers and engineers from the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, South African National Space Agency, South African Hartebeethoek Radio Astronomy Observatory, United Kingdom’s Goonhilly Earth Station and The Oxford University, UK. The GAP-I is expected to be completed and made fully operational by 2015. In the long term, GAP-II will bring on board thirty (30) additional antennas as part of the Square Kilometer Array Project which upon completion will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Through an effective collaboration with the aforementioned partners, the GAP seeks to build a seventy percent (70%) in-house human capacity to ensure its sustainability and maintenance and expected to create a substantial amount of jobs for the development of the country. It is expected that upon completion of the GAP, Ghana by virtue of its strategic location on the equator will serve as a focus of international observatories where the entire Milky Way galaxy would be studied and registered on the world space map.
Space Science & Technology Programme
The Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute has designed and will run two-year post graduate programmes in five (5) major disciplines leading to the award of an M.Phil degree under the management of the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences, University of Ghana. The programme which is expected to commence in August 2015 will utilize existing facilities like the Kuntunse Earth Station, Ghana Meteorological Services Department and other Ground Base Stations in the future.
The under-under-listed disciplines shall constitute the Space Science and Technology degree programme.
• Remote Sensing & Geographical Information System (RSGIS)
• Satellite Communication (SACOM)
• Satellite Meteorology & Global Climate (SMGOC)
• Space & Atmospheric Sciences (including Astronomy & Astrophysics) (SAS)
• Astrobiology and Astrogeology (AS)
In preparation for the take-off of the Programmes, courses in the above programme areas have been introduced at the Undergraduate levels if the country’s major universities.
Capacity Building in Radio Astronomy
Astronomy has long been seen a subject capable of inspiring young people to venture the world of science
and technology. With Ghana becoming the focus of a scientific revolution, which stands to host the first radio astronomy dish in what will become the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network or AVN, it is imperative to build capacity in this area of space science. The AVN research in this respect will provide an ideal platform to train the first generation of radio astronomers how to make single-dish observations, reduce and analyse the data, quantify uncertainties in derived parameters, and search for significant variability or trends in the data. Candidates in this project will also learn how to search for counterparts in a multi-wavelength image and their catalogue data. An essential part of the training will be the development of research skills
in the area of report writing, oral presentation and proposals for telescope time and application for PhD grants. All training shall take place at the GSSTI or the telescope site at Kuntunse beginning March 2014 and selected trainees shall mainly be drawn from Ghanaian universities with a background in physical sciences, mathematics or engineering.
Planetarium and Space Science Museum
As part of its long term goals, the GSSTI shall establish a Space Science Museum to educate Ghanaians on the prospects and benefits space technology brings to a growing economy. In addition, the GSSTI will embark on a nationwide outreach program to reach out to a broader spectacle of the youth to inspire and hype their interest in the field of astronomy as Space Science and its related technologies are not familiar to the ordinary Ghanaian. This will make easier the study of outer space and bring understanding to the abstract science of what exists beyond our planet, Earth.
The GSSTI hopes to achieve this through collaboration and support from international bodies like the South
African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), National Research Foundation (NRF), Hartebeethoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HARTRAO), American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), and United Nations Office of Outer Space (UNOOSA) among others.