Innovation and Spin-off
The AMT is a high-profile project that can serve as a show case for innovation and expertise and generate industrial spin-offs in different fields.
The AMT requires skilled personnel for the installation and maintenance of the telescope and associated facilities. It is the aim of the AMT project to involve local industry partners for this, possibly in combination with the Namibian University of Science & Technology (NUST). This way, the AMT project can serve to showcase the expertise of Namibian industry and be used for the training and education of engineering capacity.
We identify the following opportunities:
- Civil Engineering for the road, building, power and communication infrastructures;
- Mechanical & Electrical Engineering for the buildings and telescope installation and maintenance;
- ICT and Software engineering for the data processing and data storage infrastructure (see below);
- Sustainable power solutions for wind, solar, or water energy production, power storage & control (see below).
Telescopes produce high quantities of raw and processed data, which needs to be processed, stored and make (partly) publicly available to a broad audience. In this respect, astronomy is one of the most extreme examples of Big Data, and the ideal showcase for the Namibian ICT industry to present their expertise. Big Data is a global issue, often in combination with sustainable and green solutions, and it is expected that Namibian industry partners can participate on the following topics, in relation to for instance the AMT and SKA:
- Software & Algorithms: smart algorithms and (embedded) data processing solutions can efficiently processes large quantities of data and provide (near) real time access to the data products. This will have valuable spin off opportunities to other markets like Telecommunication, Medical, Military and Economic applications.
- Data processing and storage of Big Data is often power-intensive and hence costly endeavour, hence the right combination of smart software algorithms and ICT hardware must be found. Here, the use of wind and solar power can provide a sustainable solution and offer business and spin-off opportunities for Namibian industry (see below).
Like many locations in Namibia, the Gamsberg is remote and not connected to the grid, but offers ample opportunities for using the naturally available solar and wind energy for the production of energy. For many of the international astronomical facilities the conditions are very similar to those on the Gamsberg. It is therefore, that for a telescope project on the ESO (European Southern Observatories) site La Silla in Chili the Radboud University initiated the HIPERSENSE project. This relatively compact unit provides energy from a combination of both wind and solar, highly efficient power storage, a smart power management system, and state-of-the-art data processing and storage capabilities. This makes HIPERSENSE suitable for providing power and data processing capabilities for astronomical facilities, but also for emergency hospitals in remote locations, or for providing emergency or peak-power solutions in rural area’s. The current HIPERSENSE partners are interested to further develop this with Namibian partners for the AMT telescope as well as for the use in remote and rural locations throughout the country. The AMT can serve as a show case project on the Gamsberg.