By Oluwafemi Popoola
In what is a historic moment for the country, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has launched Nigeria’s first Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDarn) codenamed, VT-NigerBEAR; (The Virginia Tech, Nigerian Bowen Equatorial Aeronomy Radar).
The Vice President speaking at the event that took place at Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, on Friday, November 4, 2022, said he was extra proud to be a Nigerian, launching the country’s first aerospace technology.
The visibly elated Vice President Osinbajo, proud to witness such a historic moment for the country, even as the one launching the project, said: “Today is one of those days when I am extra proud to be a Nigerian. Here we are, witnesses, to a monumental achievement, the launch of Virginia Tech. Nigerian Bowen Equatorial Aeronomy Radar, VT-NigerBEAR.”
The VT-NigerBEAR is a world-class atmospheric observatory facility for studies in aerospace and equatorial research and development. It is the first of its kind in the lower latitude part of the world.
The facility was also said to be a partnership between the Federal Government and Virginia-tech University, United States (U.S.) and was the first and the only one in the Equator world.
Osinbajo said, “The VTNigerBear is the first and currently the only deployment of an equatorial-low-latitude SuperDARN anywhere in the world. This is a major leap forward in finding solutions to degradations of HF and GPS signals and will directly impact so many aspects of life and commerce.
“The extensive experience of the SuperDARN creates opportunities for Nigeria to leverage existing expertise, information, and data as she joins a global network with experience spanning decades.
“The importance of this project for Nigeria is clear. It can radically transform communications- infrastructure, space research, equipment design, geo-mapping, forecasting and prediction of atmospheric, climatic and oceanic conditions within Nigeria and the near low latitudes. It could be useful for offshore oil exploration activities, it could also support the activities of the navy by measuring ocean wave heights, surface currents, and surface wind directions over vast, remote areas on our waterways.
“It can also significantly change the quality of our communications, telecommunications devices, global positioning systems, satellite communications, military communications, aerial surveillance and so on.
He said, “And in particular the data obtained from the VT-NigerBEAR will be useful in the design of resilient equipment for Nigeria’s communications industry and for the work of Government agencies such as the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
“The data will also be useful for forecasting and prediction purposes for equipment manufacturers because Nigeria’s growth in technology will also leave us vulnerable to space weather effects. With the Canadian SuperDARN for example, Canada utilizes the data obtained from it to plan ahead for challenges such as pipeline corrosion, damage to electrical power grids, degradation of satellite navigation accuracy, loss of radio communications, and damage to telecommunications satellites that facilitate billions of dollars of business every day.”
The VP, while applauding the efforts of Bowen University and a group of persons in making sure the project became successful said, “we are all extremely proud of Bowen University and the team that has worked on this project, placing Nigeria on the SuperDARN global map and in the network of nations that play host to the international scientific radar network.”
“I must commend especially the Vice Chancellor Prof. Joshua Ogunwole for his leadership on this project, the Principal investigator Dr O.S. Bolaji of Unilag, and the support of Prof A.B Rabiu of the Centre for Atmospheric Research, a unit of the National Space Research and Development Agency, the partners on this project, Virginia Tech and their very experienced team of scientists.
“And of course congratulations to this great citadel of learning and research -Bowen University for this amazing achievement and for making us all so proud. Congratulations everyone.
It is now my special pleasure and privilege to officially commission Virginia Tech. Nigerian Bowen Equatorial Aeronomy Radar, VT-NigerBEAR for the benefit of Nigeria, the world and the glory of God. Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria! Osinbajo concluded.