Who was Govind Swarup, the man who pioneered radio astronomy in India?


Team Udayavani, Sep 10, 2020, 1:13 PM IST

Prof Govind Swarup, renowned scientist and radio astronomer, passed away due to illness at the age of 91 on Monday, Sep 7.

Govind was admitted at the Ruby Hall Clinic since past 10 days due to weakness and other complications.His funeral was held at the Aundh crematorium at 11.30 pm.

He is known for pioneering radio astronomy in India and setting up giant radio telescopes and was also behind the designing and installation of the Ooty Radio Telescope and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope near Pune

Govind Swarup has  been regarded as the “Father of Indian Radio Astronomy”. He was the founding director of Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)

According to The Wire, Swarup was born in Thakurdwara, now in the state of Uttar Pradesh, on March 23, 1929. He obtained his undergraduate education at Allahabad University and then joined the National Physical Laboratory in Delhi.

After a stint in Australia building telescopes at Pott’s Hill near Sydney, Prof Swarup moved to the US, where he obtained a PhD from Stanford University. At the back of his mind, always, was the thought to return to India to establish the newly emerging field of radio astronomy.

Visionary scientist Homi Bhabha, offered Swarup and some of his colleagues faculty positions at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

Later, Swarup set up the first research groups and equipment in the field in India, discovered ‘type-U’ solar busts, developed the gyro-radiation model for microwave solar emissions, and built the Ooty Radio Telescope and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) array in Pune.

Govind was awarded the Padma Shri in 1973 for his contributions and also received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize in 1972, the Khwarizmi International Award in 1999, and the Grote Reber Medal in 2007.

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