Center for Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mackenzie



Scientific and technological researches at the Mackenzie Radio-Astronomy and Astrophysics Center, CRAAM, which integrates the School of Engineering of the Presbyterian Mackenzie University, cover qualified activities in the areas of engineering and physics, related with geophysics and space. The CRAAM presents a long history in the context of Brazilian science, which justified the implementation of the Graduate Program in Geospatial Sciences and Applications. The CRAAM originated in 1960 as the Mackenzie Radio Astronomy Group - GRAM of the then Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Mackenzie University, incorporating the experimental activities of a group of students of physics and engineering, technicians, and amateurs of the Association of Amateurs of Astronomy, São Paulo, started since 1958. CRAAM activities in research and post-graduation were pioneers in Brazil, in the areas of radio science, including radio-astronomy, solar physics, solar-terrestrial relations, ionosphere physics, astrophysics, radio instrumentation science and space sciences.

The experimental activities carried out at the Ibirapuera Planetarium (until 1964) continued at the CNAE facilities, currently INPE, in São José dos Campos (1964-1965), consolidated at the Umuarama Radio Observatory in Campos do Jordão, SP (1965-1970). In 1970, activities were transferred to the Itapetinga Observatory Radio, Atibaia, SP, where in 1971 the precision radio telescope of 13.7-m diameter for millimeter waves was built, at that time one of the most advanced in the world.

In 1970-1973, CRAAM's research activities were approved as a Center of Excellence by CNPq and the Post-Graduation Course in Astrophysics of Mackenzie University was certified by the Federal Council of Education of the MEC. From 1977, the research and graduate activities of CRAAM began to be developed by CNPq in agreement with the Mackenzie. The CNPq was later succeeded by the National Institute of Space Research, INPE at the end of the 1980s.

In the 1970s the CRAAM promoted a survey of VLF wave propagation throughout the country, in cooperation with the Aerospace Technical Center of Aeronautics. In the summer of 1982- 1983 CRAAM participated in the first Brazilian mission to Antarctica, contributing with the first VLF propagation measurements in that region, aboard the ship "Barão de Teffé" in cooperation with the Brazilian Navy. In 1989, CRAAM integrated the Center for Radio Astronomy and Space Applications, a consortium with partners such as USP, Unicamp and INPE. Among the main accomplishments achieved by this partnership are the Space Geodesy Laboratory, operating the 14.2-m antenna in Eusébio (CE), the Radio Telescopio Solar Submilimétrico - SST, operated in the Argentine Andes, and the ionospheric experiments in the Brazilian scientific station Commander Ferraz installed in Antarctica. The large 13.7-m antenna at Itapetinga, Atibaia, received complete physical, electrical and electronic reform, promoted by Mackenzie, with resources from MCT-FINEP, in the period 1994-2007.

The pioneering phase of research and development activities in radio-astronomy, radio-science and space geophysics was made possible by means of contracts, agreements and aid, such as CNPq, FAPESP, the North American Science Office for Latin America and individual donations of such as Alberto Marsicano (for the construction of the first radio telescopes) and Waldemar Clemente (donor of the land of the Itapetinga Observatory Radio, Atibaia). In the subsequent phases, the resources of the agencies FAPESP, CNPq, BNDE-FUNTEC (construction of the 13.7-m telescope of Itapetinga), FINEP (the major Itapetinga reform), foreign agencies such as NOAA , NASA (USA), CNES (France), CONICET (Argentina) and, more recently, Mackpesquisa and US AFOSR. Current activities involve research, orientation of students in scientific initiation and post-graduation, through agreements with Brazilian institutions (Unicamp and INPE, mainly).

All current projects are listed below. Noteworthy are the projects that integrate the Heliogeophysics Laboratory at Complejo Astronomical El Leoncito by agreement, Andes Argentinos (solar telescope for submillimeter waves, solar telescopes for the mid infra-red and visible; solar radio polarimeter patrol telescopes in millimeter waves; cosmic ray monitor; atmospheric electric field detectors; VLF wave tracking stations); the Observatory of Itapetinga, Atibaia, SP (operated under an agreement with INPE); the Northeast Space Observatory Radio, Eusébio / Fortaleza, Ceará, dedicated to space geodesy (operated by agreement between AEB and NASA, NASA-Mackenzie Agreement, cooperation with INPE); the network of VLF wave tracking stations in Brazil and South America (SAVNET network); the developments of sensor systems for the THz range of frequencies (in cooperation with the CCS of Unicamp); solar photometers projects THz to be transported by stratospheric balloons for long duration flights (cooperation with the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Barbara, the Lebedev Institute of Physics of Moscow); analysis of the light curves obtained by the CoRoT satellite; new Brazilian georeferencing system.