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MEEF - Middle East Engineering Projects News & Releases - previous page

Kuwait to build first radio observatory in the Mideast

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Science Club has been granted funding for the construction of the first research-grade radio observatory in the Middle East, Kuwait National Radio Observatory (KNRO). The observatory will be dedicated to the study of radio astronomy.

Unlike optical telescopes, the radio telescope receives and process radio waves emitted by celestial objects. Radio waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just like visible light but at a much lower frequency. In fact, the visible light spectrum only occupies a tiny section of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists analyse these radio waves to gain a better understating on the evolution and dynamics of our universe.

"It is a very exciting project," said Jasem Mutlaq, Director of KNRO and a radio astronomer, "KNRO will enable us to unlock the mysteries of the universe, from distant quasars to the elusive dark matter. By gaining a better understanding of the universe, we gain a better understating of ourselves."


Radio astronomy is a relatively new scientific discipline that employs radio waves to probe astrophysical phenomena from interstellar gas to extragalactic quasars. Since the dawn of radio astronomy in the 1930s, it has played a crucial role in developing our modern understanding of astrophysics. Most famously, the 2.725K cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation was discovered by Penzias and Wilson at Bell Labs in 1965, using radio telecommunications equipment. Penzias and Wilson soon realised that the pervasive signal they were detecting in their antenna was the faint afterglow of the Big Bang, the very fires of creation. Radio telescopes are also responsible for the discovery of quasars (accreting black holes at the centres of distant galaxies) and pulsars (magnetised neutron stars, the remnants of exploded stars).

Mona Anbar, director of the Astronomy Department in the Science Club, stressed the importance of this vital project "Kuwait has always been a leader in supporting grand scientific projects," she said "and KNRO will put Kuwait in bar with first world countries in the pursue of scientific knowledge." As a cutting edge research-grade radio telescope facility, KNRO will perform a long-term research program investigating the distribution and kinematics of Hydrogen gas in our Milky Way galaxy. At the same time, KNRO will fulfil a parallel educational mission, providing a unique and hands-on introduction to science, computers and mathematics to students at all levels. The telescope facility is currently under construction and will take six months to complete.

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