The Love for Space Science [analysis]

Nowadays, countries are contending fiercely to be part of the “super power countries.” It seems one of the greatest innovations of human beings the rocket engine is the key to climbing up the ladder.

Rocket engines have been used for military and recreational purposes for more than a hundred years. In the contemporary times it seems inevitable that countries should build rocket engines at any cost. Since rockets are used for setting foot on the moon, weaponry, artificial satellites, human space flights and space exploration. It has been said that Ethiopia has a plan to build a satellite and for some it might sound over ambitious. Forgetting how difficult or expensive it is, at one of the high schools in Addis Ababa School of Tomorrow, students build a water model rocket. Designing the rocket with the little infrastructure they have they wanted to show that it is possible to build rockets. Understanding the basic thing about rockets action and reaction, they used a water pump. These were grade 11 students of the members of the Space Science Club. Though there is no big news about the current contribution of Ethiopia to space science, there are many high school students and elders who love space science. They dissect questions of the universe. Some of the technical matters are discussed when one is around lovers of space science. They talk about the black hole a region of space-time from which gravity prevents anything including light from escaping. Or as Hiskias Melke, 16, an 11th grader at Saint Joseph School says, the black hole is a dead star.

He talks passionately about how it depends on the type of star, that not all of them end up in a black hole, Arsen is a very small star compared to the other stars. He continues to describe it until one understand how it has to be three times more than the sun’s mass if it going to end up in a black hole. When they get together, new discoveries are talked about, the possibility of the impossible, the mystery of the universe is unleashed through science. They might start at the beginning, the big bang, which says all matter in the universe were contained in a single point.

One of these events is the celebration of one of the greatest cosmonauts they consider Yuri Gagarin contribution to this earth footing on the moon. Russia might be miles away and it has been many years since he died but the space science lovers of Addis are keeping the memories and what he did alive.

Yuri’s night started in 2009 and is celebrated at the Russian Cultural Center where everything about space science is discussed. With the photographic exhibition they wanted to show human beings interdependency living in one universe. Their excitement is clearly visible, watching the Yuri Gagarin’s documentary, knowing only the memories are left to celebrate him. They create a space where strange ideas are discussed including space colonization. The very broad ideas of space science the exploration, space warfare, alien invasion, space law is discussed. Their passion is contagious and the dimension of the moon, string theory, big bang theory gives them joy.

It is not only the students but the Ethiopian Space Science Society seems to be able keep it going. Having more than 2,000 members from all walks of life, it is seen as a platform for all space science lovers. The president of the Ethiopian Space Science Society, Solomon Belay (PhD) does not deny the fact that it is in the initiation stages of space science. They want to start a center for research, training, and teaching for those who are interested in space science.

For the past ten years the society has worked on promoting the idea aggressively convincing the politicians, trying to influence policy and decision makers to revise the curriculum and introduce space science. He says they were able to create international collaboration and also get a budget allocation for the start of the observatory site around the Entoto area. This space exploration program is designed to promote aomy research. They spend millions of dollars on building the Entoto Observatory Center and also for the promotion. Only the telescope costs around 2.5 million Euros. Solomon believes the observatory is the key element in continuing the research. Now the 32 government-owned universities are involved in it and is out of the space science society. It has its own board and became the national research center for those who are interested in space science. Apart from the donation, the universities allocate budget to the center.

He believes it is a good start to make the country a satellite nation with in the coming decade. Starting from the coming September, a Master’s program in Satellite, Space Science Aomy, and Earth Observation will facilitate things.

Even though it seems a farfetched reality to build a satellite, for Solomon this is something he aspires to be a reality for Ethiopia. According to Solomon, some of the satellites are very expensive especially the big satellites which cost up to 500-600 million USD. So according to Solomon it will be the smallest satellites. These satellites might not be the ones which can go to deeper space rather satellites which can surface the local environment such as for communication, weather and also for research purposes. A country incapable of feeding its own people, challenged by the service delivery problem, many people question the purpose of launching satellites and spending money this much. Solomon says they did a poll and research on the necessities of satellites involving the different stakeholders including EthioTelecom. According to Solomon, Ethiopian Telecommunication pays a lot of money since there is no satellite and he believes satellites make the day-to-day life easier. The space science society started with a group of friends, Fasil Nahom, Tefera Walwa, Kemal Bedri crossing paths with the scientists during their star gazing event. They had old telescopes and went out into the field to look at the stars and talked about theoretical astrophysics and that became the reason for the establishment of the Ethiopian Space Science Society.

The idea of a society was to include anyone and everyone within the bigger space. Even though the ancient people knew how to read the stars, somehow that skill could not be passed down to the current generation. Tefera Walwa had a big contribution in the establishment of this society where they donated telescopes. With the curriculum revision Addis Ababa University Technology faculty included Astrophysics and a Space program in 2008 in the undergraduate program, which Solomon sees as a success. There are more than 60 space science clubs, 11 branches in different regions and he believes they went to the grass root level in introducing space science to the community. They also gave around 200 telescopes to schools.

There are star gazing events, solar eclipses and the celebration of world space week. They distribute fliers and posters to different schools. Growing up in a very remote side of the country, Solomon’s love for physics was deep and the pictures of NASA caught his little heart so he decided to study physics. Passionately he talks about deep space, the energy we use in this world being 5% and the other 95% being dark energy and he refers to Albert Einstein.

Now many countries are excelling in space science space colonization became an issue for scientists and many countries. According to Solomon, Ethiopian governments also signed in 1967 an agreement on the peaceful use of outer space without understanding space science.

He is actually pursuing students to study space law since it is connected to the security of the country. Many are connected to the space science and dream of outer space. One of the young inspiring people who love space science deeply are Beza Tesfaye Zewde, 26. She is behind the events of Yuri’s night, star gazing and solar eclipse. Her love for space science started when she was in eighth grade. The Ethiopian television program Hiwa Science made her pursue more and the astrophysicist Legese Wotro (PhD) inspired her to know about space science. What she knew about space science was aauts and travelling in outer space but now she understands more. Understanding the complexity and the fascinating nature of space science she started deeply immersing herself in it. She says the use and connection of space science is relevant in the daily lives including communication, Astro mining and disaster relief. She loves space exploration, even though she majors in Computer Science.

She gly believes that education should start at an early age. At a young age she was looking for someone to break down the knowledge of the universe but could not get it.

Now grown up she started organizing events, start gazing, space conventions, and solitary eclipses for high school students and for communities who love space science. Apart from being a part of the Ethiopian Space Science Society she is a member of an international organization Space Generation Aisory Council under the United Nation. This is a platform for all young people to discuss space science, to exchange thoughts and ideas about space science in the country. They search online for their stargazing events, which star is going to be shown, the moon’s positioning and the constellation, clarity, weather forecasting, and schedule for stargazing. They have support for a telescope from individuals who support them. On their laptops they just see the celestial software which helps in giving information about the moon positioning and also the story of the stars. With their gatherings the first things they do is an introduction about the stars and just observe the stars before going to the telescope. They focus the telescopes on the different planets, Mars, Jupiter to see the different stars and people take turns interchangeably. They did the stargazing in Entoto and the Janmeda neighborhoods.

They meet up around 6 in the evening to see the stars and stay for a couple of hours. Still bothered with the light pollution, which prevents them from seeing the Milky Way galaxy, they still talk about the stars.

She also works with schools such as Cathedral, Nazreth, Saint Joseph, School of Tomorrow and Misrak Goah. Beza is amazed with the knowledge these students possess and they take her by surprise with their power presentation for having very deep knowledge and she did not hide how they mesmerize even people who are professionals. They dissect the idea of why Pluto is not a planet, what the future weapons look like and time travel.

They also formed a club called Addis Kokeb Space Science Club a club for all high school students who love space science. This is a chance to know each other, to exchange ideas and be within a community who share the same idea. Now they have a plan to build a homemade rocket. They started a Facebook page called Ethio-Rocket and they talk about the engine type, if it is going to be hybrid or not. They have a plan to go to the Ministry of Defense and see what kind of technology they have. They are trying to get funds, involve the professionals to design and build it. After a year and a half they will be testing their rocket to see if it works or not. For them one of the challenges is finding funds even though they do a lot of activities. They always cover it with their pocket money. Beza talks about one of their events, the solar eclipse and sadly there was nothing to watch it on but a guy brought a floppy disk even though it is dangerous. So what they did was take a picture using their phone using the floppy disk to see the eclipse. “Even though sometimes it is frustrating to find money, we do it for love,” says Beza. They are persistent in making it work even though there are many who break their promises about venues. There is a shortage of books and infrastructure but she is still struggling to keep the love and keep it going. Her dedication is g and wants to be involved in the space management of the bigger picture of Ethiopia. One of her friends with the same name Bezaye Hailu also shares her frustration.

At a young age he started asking questions about why there is no life on other planets and the curiosity lead him to ask more questions and find answers.

He has a deep love for the spaceship, taking a million light years might be what it takes to go there but he believes Ethiopia should work on the technology. While working for the Ethiopian Space Science Society, sometimes he meets aspiring scientists who are caught between Ethiopia without the presence of infrastructure and leaving the country. He understands making it against all odds without the presence of formal education he is deeply involved in the deeper part of space science.

The possibility of time travel is one of the things that attracts these students, teleportation, time machine. They imagine the unimaginable. Traveling through different universes, the concept of time and space and many other things are real to them even though they aren’t for many people. He does not hide the fact that they cannot talk to everyone and that their community is theirs and unique, where they can be completely themselves. Films and different social medias also helped make their community closer.

Albert Einstein fascinates him, he talks about the light nature and the wave. He goes on deeply talking about quantum mechanics, even though its probably too complicated and technical for most people. As a child reading about all the aauts, he now has a motto, “nothing is impossible.” His father mentored him in space science and the book he reads Ke atom eske Kokeb (from atom to star) shaped his future. What he loves about space science is quantum mechanics and aomy, and his five friends seem to share his love for outer space and are determined to know what is out there. St. Joseph Space Science Club was established five years ago and he joined three years ago. During lunch breaks they present and discuss issues and last week’s issue was on the relativity theory. Him being the event manager, they had a stargazing event with the Nazareth School. They watched the moons of Jupiter for hours and it was still not enough. There were around 45 students trying to manage with two telescopes. “It’s amazing “is all he said with a deep sigh. Being here he misses what is out there. For many, curiosity about the universe is crushed with hardships of life but for his dream, even the simple things like the velocity matters. Even though he wants to stay here he understands the shortage of infrastructure to study theoretical physics so going abroad is his first priority. He wants to dedicate his life to knowing the unifying thing which holds the universe “I don’t know if it is going to help the people I live with but I want to pursue this” says Hiskias.

Source : The Reporter

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