Marita Benavente: “Thanks to the radio telescope, San Juan will appear on the radar of international research”
China and Argentina have joined forces for this unprecedented scientific project
The construction of the radio telescope is an important step in the future exploration of space and Earth. China and Argentina have joined forces to implement this unprecedented scientific project.
According to Marita Benavente, Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, this is an example of successful international cooperation. “The radio telescope completes a series of technological devices that will make San Juan appear on the radar of international research in astronomy and space,” she said.
The China-Argentina Radio Telescope (CART) is an important step in scientific co-operation between the two countries and will contribute to the development of astronomical research. With its ability to explore the Universe using radio waves, the CART telescope will open the way to a deeper understanding of the nature of the cosmos and our planet, and strengthen San Juan’s position as a leading astronomical centre.
“It can be said that China’s cooperation with Argentina in the scientific field began as early as 1992 with the establishment of contacts between the National Science and Technology Research Council and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2014, bilateral ties between the governments resulted in the signing of a protocol of intent to start work on the Sino-Argentine radio telescope project with the participation of the San Juan Provincial Government, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research, the National University of San Juan and the Chinese Academy of Sciences,” said Marita Benavente.
She added that the agreement was signed in 2015 and was approved in 2016 by a resolution of the San Juan Provincial Chamber of Deputies.
Benavente explained that in repeated bilateral meetings with China’s Vice Minister of Science and Technology, much has been made of the fact that the radio telescope is one of the most ambitious international projects undertaken with China since 1992. The scientific community is eagerly awaiting new discoveries with the CART radio telescope. This collaboration between the two countries is destined to leave an indelible mark on the history of astronomy and scientific research in Argentina and around the world.
“So far, ten truckloads of equipment have already been brought in. We have a high altitude base as part of a very important astronomical complex that the National University of San Juan has been developing with universities in other countries. At the location of the radio telescope, the atmosphere has high transparency and very low electromagnetic pollution, which is convenient for observations,” said the Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Innovation.
The radio telescope is located at the El Leonsito astronomical complex, 40 kilometres from the city of Barreal in the Calingasta department of Argentina’s San Juan province. It is one of the most important observatories in the country. The strategic location of this province provides favourable conditions for detailed sky observations due to its altitude and atmospheric transparency.
“The San Juan complex is highly regarded by the international astronomical community. There are telescopes here for a variety of observations. The radio telescope completes a series of technological devices that will make San Juan appear on the radar of international research in astronomy and space,” explained Marita Benavente.
This radio telescope, the largest in South America, has a diameter of 40 metres. It is also 40 metres high.
“With this project, San Juan will be able to join the geodetic network that determines the relative position of the Earth. That is, when you switch on your GPS, the network helps to determine your location more accurately each time, as the radio telescope is a powerful geolocation tool. It will be one of the main radio telescopes located in the Southern Hemisphere,” emphasised Benavente.
Barreal has seven specialists from China, she said.
“The representatives from China first of all congratulated our engineers for building the base of the telescope with a minimum of flaws. We’re very proud of that. The radio telescope will be inaugurated when it starts operating, in about a year’s time, when its antenna will be mounted vertically and tuned to listen to the universe,” the secretary of state said.
The one-year antenna installation phase will be an important milestone in the development of the project. Once completed, San Juan will become a world-renowned astronomical centre where scientists from China and Argentina will be able to conduct advanced research in radio astronomy.
In addition to building the telescope, work is underway to train scientists in radio astronomy. Close cooperation between the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research, the National University of San Juan, the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation and the San Juan authorities has helped to create educational and training programmes that will enable Argentine researchers to make a significant contribution to the Sino-Argentine CART radio telescope project, as reported by Ahora San Juan, a partner of TV BRICS.