SKA: an "astronomical" project in which Madagascar could soon participate

Franco Clerc, the director and producer of the docu-fiction, at the very end of the editing of his film "The Mysteries of Arivonimamo".

This project, entirely voluntary, aims to bring the existence of the SKA project to the attention of a wide public.

And to encourage scientific vocations among young people.

© Sarah Tetaud/RFI

Text by: RFI Follow

3 mins

The “SKA” project, for Square Kilometer Array, was imagined by an international scientific consortium to study essential scientific questions ranging from the birth of the Universe to the origins of life.

This by creating the largest radio telescope in the world, thanks to the installation of thousands of radio telescopes in different places around the globe. 


Read more

With our correspondent in Antananarivo,

Sarah Tétaud

On the island, an astrophysicist fights to join the adventure.

A director, touched by the project and by what it could bring to the country, decided to make a film of it, "

the Mysteries of Arivonimamo

" released in theaters this week.

That's really impressive professor


She's gigantic, how tall is she


I believe, 40 meters…


On screen, in front of Arivonimamo's huge parabolic antenna, the three protagonists of this documentary-fiction.

Two schoolgirls, passionate about astronomy, question the astrophysicist Charles Ratsifaritana on the role that this antenna could play if the Big Island integrated the SKA project.

Behind the camera is Malagasy director and producer Franco Clerc.

He worked on this film on a voluntary basis: “ 

It was the perfect opportunity to talk about a subject that can inspire and interest Malagasy youth.

And then I really fell in love with Professor Charles' initiative, because it would allow Madagascar to join a world-scale project in terms of astrophysics and radio astronomy, with all the opportunities that it can bring to Malagasy youth and scientists.

And if the film can attract enough people and interest and why not raise funding that would allow this project to materialize, well great



Because to launch Madagascar into the adventure, " 

there is indeed a lack of 80,000

dollars for the moment

 ", explains Professor Charles Ratsifaritana, national coordinator of the project.

Unraveling the Mysteries of the “ 

Dark Ages

 ” of the Universe

The antenna that exists in Arivonimamo is an antenna that was used for international telecommunications.

And to be transformed into a radio telescope, you have to make improvements, engine changes, there are a lot of things that need to be changed inside.

I hope the state will accept.

It's something that is for the country, for the country's development, education, research, our international visibility.

If we miss that, it would be a shame!

It's going to be the largest radio telescope in the world!

Thousands of telescopes will be aligned in a system called interferometry.

And all in unison, on a specific location, will record a maximum of radiation, sources of information 

,” he adds.

With this system of radio telescopes, scientists hope to unravel the mysteries of the " 

Dark Ages

 ": the " 

dark ages

 " of the universe, or to verify whether Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity is still valid under very extreme conditions.


We will discover things.

Things we don't know and things we don't even know that we don't know

 ,” adds the professor mischievously.

The Malagasy radio telescope could also, according to the professor, transmit a lot of information useful for monitoring the coasts and the territory, for agriculture or even for managing the evolution of climate change.

Poster of the docu-fiction "The Mysteries of Arivonimamo", released this January 21, 2023 on the big screen, in Antananarivo.

© FilmsandcomicsMadagascar


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