The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KIAM RAS) have announced the winners of ISONscope, a cooperation programme under the Access to Space for All Initiative.
This year, the Kenya Space Agency and the Nigeria Centre for Basic Space Science of the National Space Research and Development Agency will receive two small wide field-of-view telescopes from KIAM RAS as a prize.
The ISONscope programme supports capacity-building and the promotion of space education and research in developing countries. Through the programme, KIAM RAS awards small telescopes to research institutions and agencies, aiming to increase national capabilities in astronomy and space data analysis. The recipients will also participate in the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), a project coordinated by KIAM RAS, which mainly focuses on the collection of observational data on space debris and near-Earth objects.
The Kenyan Space Observation and Research Telescope (K-SORT Project), led by the Kenya Space Agency, aims to monitor space debris, space weather, and near-Earth objects. It also hopes to promote and support space science research and outreach programmes in Kenya. The Nigeria Centre for Basic Space Science will conduct a photometric study on a type of variable star known as Delta Scuti. By partnering with several Nigerian universities, access to the telescope is also expected to benefit students and their capacities.
Speaking about the programme, Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, said: “ISONscope is the first opportunity that UNOOSA offers under the Access to Space for All Exploration Track, aimed at making inclusive the efforts on space exploration, so all countries develop capacity in this field. At UNOOSA we assign utmost importance to inclusion and leaving no one behind, working to ensure that the benefits of space, in particular for sustainable development, are truly accessible to all.”
Alexander Aptekarev, Director of KIAM RAS, added: “Fostering the exchange of scientific and technical information is the pivotal role of research organisations, particularly in the field of space research, which is closely interconnected with socio-economic factors and many other areas of knowledge.”
General Hillary Kipkosgey, Director of Kenya Space Agency, stated: “This project is envisioned to enhance the study space science and astronomy at the agency and in the partnering universities. The telescope is expected to set in motion a new era of space science and astronomy research in Kenya that will be instrumental in growing the local space sector.”
Bonaventure Okere, Director of Centre for Basic Space Science, commented: “The opportunity provided to us by the Access to Space for All Initiative is unprecedented in our quest to contribute meaningfully to the global effort aimed at studying near-Earth objects. Since space is limitless, there is no limit to what can be achieved with this facility as we look forward to making a great impact globally.”