What is the AVN?
The African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network
The AVN will be a network of VLBI-capable radio telescopes across several countries on the African continent, which will work to increase the capabilities of the Square Kilometre Array Telescope (SKA). The SKA will be built over 2 sites; South Africa and Australia, and when finished will be the world's largest radio telescope with a collecting area of a square kilometre.
VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) involving telescopes across Africa will further enhance the ability of the SKA; it will link together radio telescopes in different countries, allowing astronomers to see the universe in incredible detail. With combined dishes that are then effectively as large as entire countries astronomers can see into the hearts of black holes, map star surfaces and track galactic developments and even continental drift here on Earth.
The AVN will help to develop the skills, regulations and institutional capacity needed in SKA partner countries to optimise African participation in the SKA and enable participation in SKA pathfinder technology development and science. SKA partner countries are; Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
The AVN programme will transfer skills and knowledge in African partner countries to build, maintain, operate and use radio telescopes. It will bring new science opportunities to Africa on a relatively short time scale and develop radio astronomy science communities and increase Big Data opportunities in the SKA partner countries.
Big data requirements
Big Data can be defined as the ability to process and analyse huge quantities of data in real time and is an important component of the SKA. These skills will have to be developed in each of the AVN partner countries. African scientists and engineers will become proficient in High Performance Computing (HPC) in order to use the cyber-infrastructure being built.
DARA Big Data provides African students with vital skills that will enable them to take part in the upcoming big data revolution on their own continent.