UCR students hope to create first regional solar weather database

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In the hopes of creating the first Central American database of solar weather, a group of young scientists from Universidad de Costa Rica have rolled up their sleeves to actively work in the creation of the first regional radio-telescope.

This project is sponsored by the Vicerrectoría de Investigación at Universidad de Costa Rica and, once completed, it will allow the science community to better understand how the radio-magnetic behavior of the sun effects our livelihood, particularly in the areas of telecommunication services.

To achieve this goal, the group, which includes astrophysicist and electrical and mechanical engineers, will transform an old satellite antenna located in Santa Cruz in the province of Guanacaste, according to Carolina Salas, astrophysicist and head of the project.

“It is an old antenna first used to track an specific satellite,” Ms. Salas said. “It is a fixed one so right now it doesn’t work as a radio telescope so we have started the project by redesigning it in a way that it can move.”

“Once that part is complete, we’ll also work on creating a receptor that fits the antenna and start gathering radio information of the sun weather. This will take no less than six years and we are all very excited about it,” Ms. Salas added.

The scientist explained that a radio-telescope allows to keep better track of the events happening outside the earth, since radio waves are not affected by clouds nor the weather.

She also said that, at certain frequencies, it allows to make general scans of the radioactivity coming from other celestial bodies.

“This was a long time idea that one of our former professor in the School of Physics had,” Ms. Salas said.

“He then retired and I continued with the idea to make it happen. I also love this project because that’s the area I have be specialized in: the study of the sun.”

The antenna was donated by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad a few years ago. The rest of the project get its funding from the Universidad de Costa Rica.

This includes the rights of use once it is finished, according to Manrique Oviedo, spokesperson from the Vicerrectoría de Investigación.

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