On 10 September 2019, the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) are signing an agreement to collaborate in radio astronomy research. The research in particular will utilize virtual Reality (VR) technologies on radio astronomy data coming from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, starting with its precursor, the MeerKAT.
VR is not just a an immersive technology, it is a completely novel way to visualize scientific data which is already leading to new discoveries and understanding of the vast data sets generated by the MeerKAT and other telescopes of its generation. Through its visualization laboratory, IDIA is a leading institute in astronomy data visualization and benefits from many international collaborations.
One of the MeerKAT Large Survey Projects supported by IDIA is the Fornax Survey, project led by Paolo Serra in Italy. Prof. Tom Jarrett at the University of Cape Town is leading the IDIA Visualization Lab team and the Catania Observatory ICT group is led by Dr. Ugo Becciani.
Both Italy and South Africa are partner countries in the Square Kilometre Array projects and signatories of the SKA Observatory Convention, which was incorporated into an Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) in March 2019 in Rome, Italy.
This agreement strengtens the already fruitful collaborations between Italy and South Africa in radio astronomy research and training.