Context: Govind Swarup, the man who pioneered radio astronomy in India, died recently in Pune following a brief illness.
- Swarup is credited with conceptualising and leading the team that set up the Ooty Radio Telescope (ORT) and Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT).
- Setting up the ORT was no easy task but Swarup was aware of the geographical advantage India enjoyed owing to its proximity to the equator.
- With the experience of ORT, Swarup decided to set up Pune’s GMRT, an array of 30 dish antennas spread across a distance of 25 km, arranged in a ‘Y’ shape at a pristine yet suitable location at Khodad in Junnar taluka.
- Since 2002, GMRT has facilitated some novel discoveries in the field of astronomy.
- Because cosmic radio sources are extremely weak, radio telescopes are usually very large—up to hundreds of metres across—and use the most sensitive radio receivers available.
- Moreover, weak cosmic signals can be easily masked by terrestrial radio interference, and great effort is taken to protect radio telescopes from man-made emissions.