Nigeria, first country to acquire cosmic rays detector in Africa – NASRDA

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By Ijeoma Olorunfemi

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) says Nigeria is the first country in Africa to acquire a cosmic ray muon detector to aid climate change and atmospheric research.

Prof. Babatunde Rabiu, Director, UN- African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English (UN-ARCSSTEE), a research and development centre of NASRDA, disclosed this at a symposium in Abuja on Thursday.

The symposium on Cosmic Rays and Space Weather was organised by UN-ARCSSTEE in collaboration with Georgia State University (GSU), USA.

The muon detector for monitoring cosmic rays and space weather was built and designed by the Physics and Astronomy Department of Georgia State University (GSU), USA.

Rabiu explained that a cosmic ray is a natural radiation that is not ionized in the atmosphere.

According to him, cosmic rays vary in location, latitude, and altitude of location and can be modified when certain anthropogenic activities occur.

“More than ever, scientists are curious about predicting weather, and studying space weather, especially now that climate change is becoming obvious, which is the condition in outer space.

“Cosmic rays are everywhere and it has to do with the earth, and it is useful in studying the climate but is yet to be fully impacted because it is ongoing research.

“That is why we hope that with the measurements, we are taking with the muon detector, we will be able to have effective predictability of our climate system,’’ he said.

Rabiu, while speaking on space weather activities in Africa, said it dated back to 2004 with the distribution of manometers across Africa by donor agencies.

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He said that although few countries in Africa had their Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers, the continent needed more monitoring systems for space weather.

Prof. He Xiaochun, Director of Physics, at GSU, USA, said the project was targeted at exploring living in space, understanding it, and its adaptation, and providing information for stakeholders to protect and make informed decisions.

Xiaochun explained that cosmic ray radiation, mostly proton particles, is produced far in deep space and gets into the solar system and produces cosmic ray showers in the earth’s upper atmosphere.

“We measure the shower particles at the surface of the earth and decode the state of the space and earth weather.

“One needs a network IP address to be able to share data and reconfigure the detector with remote access,” he said.

Dr Bonaventure Okere, Director of the Centre for Basic Space Science and Astronomy, said that the facility would aid astronomy studies and enhance research and development in that area.

The symposium highlighted cosmic radiations, how it interacts with the atmosphere, and environments, the impact of climate change, and how such radiations could be studied and analysed using the cosmic rays muon detector.

The meeting also discussed the need for stakeholders to make informed decisions on the reduction of gas emissions and having clean air for sustainable human development.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Nick Nicholas/Deji Abdulwahab

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