the 7th Anniversary Issue
at Heavens From the Pearl in the Indian
Based Telescope Controller that Accessible
Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies in Sri Lanka
Lankan's window to the universe",
the biggest optical telescope in
the Island housed at the Arthur
C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies
(ACCIMT) in Sri Lanka.
dual Interview with Dr. K.P.S. Chandana
JAYARATNE, Consultant on Astronomy,
ACCIMT & Senior Lecturer in
Physics, University of Colombo &
Saraj GUNASEKERA, Research Scientist,
Interviews conducted by Light Millennium
Photo Credits: Light Millennium
The Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies was named
after Sir Arthur C. Clarke in
honor of his work that is also
a resident in Sri Lanka. Light
Millennium was very impressed
with the Vision, Mission of the
Institute as well as its overall
accomplishments and ongoing projects
which were reflected on the 3rd
Anniversary of the Light Millennium:
Vision of Sri Lanka for Twenty-First
Despite the major aftermath of tsunami and ongoing civil war between
Tamils and Singhalese in Sri Lanka,
institutions such ACCIMT and Sarvodaya
Movement allow me to believe that
Sri Lanka still contributes towards
to peace within country, in the
region, as well as globally via
these inspiring Institutional
and movements. Light Millennium
revisited the Arthur C.
Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies in Moratowa, Sri Lanka on December
18, 2007, and conducted interviews
as follow:. Interviews with Faleel
IBRALEBBE, Head of Technical Division of ACC Institute for Modern Technologies;
Dr. K.P.S. Chandana JAYARATNE, Consultant on Astronomy,
Arthur C. Clarke Institute for
Modern Technologies & Senior
Lecturer in Physics, University
of Colombo; Saraj GUNASEKERA, Research Scientist,
Arthur C. Clarke Institute For
Modern Technologies & Janaka
ADASSURIYA, Research Scientist, Arthur C. Clarke Institute For Modern Technologies.
To be recognized in the South
Asian Region as a centre of excellence
in modern technologies, inspired
by Space Visionary Sir Arthur
- 1: Interview with Faleel IBRALEBBE,
Head of Technical Division of ACC Institute
for Modern Technologies.
Millennium (LM): How many years have you
been working or in charge for this division?
Ibralebbe: I have been working in
this institute for the last 2 years. I
am mainly involved in the technical aspects
of this Institute.
Would you tell about your major accomplishment
through Space Application Division?
Ibralebbe: Our Space Division is more
to allow us to look upwards, we watch
Here at the Space Application Division,
we have some missions. For example, we
are starting RSGIS, that is Remote Sensing,
then we have a project to put our telescope
on the Web so that you can see & use
the telescope from anywhere in the world.
That is the basic idea depending on the
network connectivity. You will be able
to see the pictures or there will be a
storage where you can go and browse the
pictures and other information. We did
a good job in the Tsunami. When we were
hit by the Tsunami, we did a small project
to see the effects on our coastal areas-before
Tsunami as well as after Tsunami.
What do you consider the major contributions
of the Space Application Division to people
of Sri Lanka?
Ibralebbe: We take astronomy and educate
Sri Lankans on the science of Astronomy.
For example, we tell the general public
the lightning, we do studies of the lightning.
What do you find as the most interesting
about lightning that you could share with
Ibralebbe: Let's say, people specially
the farmers, they are in the field, all
of a sudden, they get a thunderstorm.
We educate them how to safeguard themselves.
Now, some of their farming families, they
go under a tree and they are more risk
to attract by lightening under a tree.
So, we advise them to go to a safer area
where there is no a high tree.
How did the Tsunami aftermath- in terms
of growing process of the Institution,
and also how did it affect your ongoing
and developing projects and researches?
Ibralebbe: We have energy crisis here,
what we are trying to do here is to substitute...
Have you made a progress on Solar Energy?
(Please see: A Vision of
Sri Lanka for Twenty-First Century)
Ibralebbe: A lot of progress we have
made a lot of progress on that..
Could you please explain it in more details?
Ibralebbe: We have made solar street
lamps, now our street lightings we want
to replace completely. Because, 131 Gig
watts power on street lighting and we
are subsidizing 4 units, I am not quite
sure, say 10 units that we are subsiding.
What we are trying to do is we will save
this money by replacing the street lighting
with solar lighting and saving some foreign
currency for this country.
So, when is this going to be realized?
Ibralebbe: We did already; the test
systems are in place. If you go to the
front side there is lamp, there is solar
power. We are going to put, say the solar
street lamps. Because in Sri Lanka, we
have different weather conditions. If
you go to the costal areas, you have bright
sun. If you go to the central part of
the country, it is the hill country where
the sunlight may not be that good. So,
we have made few systems and we are going
to find out which parameters will be suitable
for those areas. Now, talking to the energy
conservation fund, Sloan Electricity,
and very sub institutions, Remote Digital (RD). For example, development authority,
we will help out them, we are trying to
do so... Once we get those results, we
will be finalizing the project. Most likely,
within the next 6 months, we should be
able to finish this project.. Apart from
that now we have another national level
project. That is called, Digital Energy
Meters. Now, we have the Sloan Electricity
Board, normally they use the analog meters.
With analog metering, they have problems
in remote areas for example. They have
to send somebody for each meter. The cost
of the analog meters for CED will be eliminated
with the Digital Energy Meters project.
What is CED?
Ibralebbe: Celeon Electricity Board.
What we are doing now is to network these
meters, wireless networking and the metering
is digital, non-analog meter. So, the
digital meters what we are trying to do
is, we will be able to recode the consumption
patterns say from 6 to 10, 10 to 12, on
an hourly basis and we are trying to give
the CED with a kind of information base
that will be very useful for them to optimize
their resources. So, they have Diesel
generation of how much exactly the demand
is. And we are also trying to change this
consumption per ton with our solar energy
replacements. We have now street lamps.
In the future, we will have some houses
as well. We are not concentrating at the
moment on houses, because other companies,
they have been successful to a certain
extent. But we are trying to enhance it.
And may be in the future, what we are
trying is, we will be pumping energy to
the national grid as well. Say, solar
house, they have energy, surplus energy.
They can generate 10 Kilowatts but they
utilize only 1 kilowatt. So, 9 kilowatt
can go into the grid. For that kind of
utilization you need information. So with
this digital metering, we will be able
to provide that kind of information into
the CED consumption database. Then, another
project, something similar is watersupply
port we are rafinating. They also have
metering problems. We are trying to solve
it almost the same kind of technology
but information is different.
What are the next 5 years' projects?
Ibralebbe: Next 5 years, we are planning
to this RSGIS technology which is called,
Remote Sensing Geographical Information
System (RSGIS). Actually we are
working with the. National Surveying department.
We want to put a new high way. Now, in
the future, we will be giving the right
kind of route, we should chase for this
role. Then water.
Actually, you have the most rain and you
have the water problem. I don't understand
Ibralebbe: Yes. We want to solve that
by giving the right kind of information
to the right authorities and parties.
Let's say, they want to dig a well or
they want to tap the water or may be in
the future, they will look forwards to
the ACC Institute. So, that is the kind of technology that we are developing now. We have already setup our lab to a certain
extent. We are getting the computers and
other gears. But, in the future, may be
another, next year, we will have the necessity
How many staff do you have in the Space
* * * * *
Ibralebbe: Currently, we have 10 staff
in the Space Application and for the other
areas I think we are talking about 3 experts.
They work as consultants and we will be
getting our engineers and our research
stuff under .. as inventory requirements
of the Institution. But we are trying
to work on the project basis. The funding
will come from the various private parties
as well. We have a kind of funding but
it will be very minimum.
II - Dual Interview with Dr. K.P.S. Chandana JAYARATNE, Consultant
on Astronomy, Arthur C. Clarke Institute
For Modern Technologies & Senior Lecturer
in Physics, University of Colombo &
Saraj GUNASEKERA, Research Scientist, Arthur
C. Clarke Institute For Modern Technologies.
K.P.S. Chandana JAYARATNE (left), Saraj
Light Millennium: When did the Space Application
Chandana JAYARATNE: Soon after installation
of the telescope. We can say it in 1996.
Since 1996, with the help of this telescope,
what are the major, basic, the most essential
scientific facts, information you gathered
from the telescopes?
GUNASEKERA: Since 2002 we have been
publishing scientific papers. You have
seen some data gathered with this telescope.
What is it called?
GUNASEKERA: We have observed galaxies,
variable stars and Be stars. Be stars
are very interesting to study as they
shows emission lines in their spectra.
We have made publications from out comes
of these studies.
Your own publication?
What is your publication's name?
are about 6 publications we have made
so far. One is Spectrometric Study
of Stellar Objects. The second one
is Spectrometric Study of Stellar
Objects with Special Attention to Galaxies
and Nebulae, etc. Actually, in some of
our research work, we were able to find
some new stuff also. Recently we did some
research work on Be stars. These stars
are fast rotating objects and shows emission
lines in their spectra. We observed several
Be stars in the wavelength region of Hydrogen
Alpha using our telescope and spectrograpgh.
We were able to found some changes in
their emission line profiles. We were
also able to find some correlation between
various profile parameters.
What are their specialties that you recently
found, or what are those new findings?
K.P.S. Chandana JAYARATNE:
Newly now, actually this is highly technical.
It is somewhat difficult to explain. There
is a secular or elliptical disc around
Be-stars. This consists of mainly Hydrogen
and Helium gas. So, we have found some
properties, some new properties of those
elliptical discs of one of our observed
Be-stars. So, it is a new thing. Still
we are, we intend to continue our research
on that particular property, focusing,
emphasizing that particular property.
Likewise there are lot things. A lot of
new things you can find when you observe,
when you get data from different stars.
How do you reflect those data into your
daily base research at the ACC Institute
for Modern Technologies?
JAYARATNE: Now, it is like this, we
can contribute the enhancement of the
science by, with our new findings. So,
we can contribute in a way, we can contribute
to the development of science in the world.
JAYARATNE: Sharing, yes. And, it is
beneficial to Sri Lanka as well as the
Since 1996, is there any finding that
let you, institution or Sri Lanka, to
turn as an actual product or to develop
a certain product for daily life, daily
need? For instance, how digital cameras
developed? How satellites developed the
cell phone, Internet. So, I would like
to find out if there is a, or let's say,
you have some findings that might lead
to such daily practical product that all
be good for all, something in this line?
is considered as the most fundamental science
of all sciences."
taken via ACCIMT's Telescope, Sri
photo taken via ACCIMT's Telescope,
"In [another] 10 years you will see
a boom, a scientific boom in the country."
Dr. JAYARATNE: Well,
this is a question that even NASA is facing
and they have Apollo 17 program, because
of this question. Apollo 17 was not sent
because they thought that it is a lot of
money and nothing coming out. And, it is
the same question that you are asking to
us. In astronomy, actually, I would say,
at the moment no. Because there is, astronomy
is they have to develop the knowledge and
astronomy is considered as the most fundamental
science of all sciences. And it contains
the six such as mathematics, chemistry,
then biology, physic, everything is there.
So, in a country like Sri Lanka where we
don’t have laboratory facilities for
remote, in schools, the astronomy or the
night skies is the best laboratory that
we have. So, in that respect I would say,
we have put the astronomy to the curricula
of school education and there is a tremendous
interest to study astronomy at the school
level and those who are not having the access
to the laboratories or to such practical
things. The nightly sky is there, because
whatever the subject, knowing through astronomy
you can go to that direction within the
six. So, they are quite all see that is
the benefit that the student got. Because
there are astronomy clubs in most of the
schools and the enthusiasm to learn science
was developed through astronomy and the
impact is in direct impact, let’s
say in another 10 years you will see a boom,
a scientific boom in the country.
"Sri Lankan window to the Universe"
- Would you elaborate on your definition
on the biggest telescope in Sri Lanka:
"Sri Lankan window to the Universe"?
JAYARATNE: It is a big, and the oldest
in the country. Oldest and the biggest.
We have actually the oldest astronomy
dome in the Union City ground. It was
used to discover mass and there are some
planets named after the telescope. But
that is old. The University of Colombo’s
telescope, which came more than 100 years
old. And this was the ground to a need
for the new one. In 1996, a new one was
installed and this became the biggest
telescope until such time, which is a
gift from the Japanese Government at that
You are the installer of the telescopes?
No, no. This type of telescopes are also
available in some other countries as well
as a network, that is in the Island, Egypt
and Hawaii. You know that it is a network
in the world that is rotated any time
you look at the sky or asteroid is passing
by and as you are aware that is protecting
the world from incoming asteroids. That
is one of the, you know, applications
of astronomy for the sake of mankind.
So, therefore, this telescope force is
meant for actually to detect asteroids
in addition to the other astronomical
observations in wide. So, this is of being
support of all telescopes where you have
this sort telescopes within the same orbit
but in different time of the day. And
in this case though there are other telescopes
in the northern hemisphere of the world,
southern hemisphere, basically, you know,
under-developed part also, so there are
very few. So, in this respect, the Sri
Lankan one is very important. Because,
from Sri Lanka up to the Antarctica there
are not other telescopes, so it is a huge
one in the Indian Ocean. Completely, you
know, so they are to observe southern
hemisphere still objects. Our telescope
is very important one. But, for the northern
hemisphere, India is having much bigger
telescopes than this. So for example,
let me explain that, now if an asteroid
is detected, then first of all, we have
to decide this part and to see if it will
hit, and all those related things follow.
So, these things let’s say in the
USA, they are observing it. And when you
observe continuously, when it comes to
daytime to the America, the Sri Lanka
is exactly 180 degrees opposite to the
USA. So in such context, we have to take
over and to provide data for that particular
object which is moving. So, we have that
capacity now. In case they start this
thing and they have to do any sort of
mapping of this thing then we can do.
So mapping of such asteroids, potentially
they are asteroids, saving of mankind,
this telescope has a major role, because
our location is unique and that is why
actually now that we have made this telescope
Web Based Control program. Anybody in the world that
is outside can automatically control it
on the Internet, and they can take data
in without being here.
it is a sort of publicly available source
JAYARATNE: Not only sharing information,
but they also can take the data from here
without our daytime team.
LM: So, they will have direct access.
Dr. JAYARATNE: Yes.
Then let's say in America or from any
other country anyone could have access
anytime whenever they wish?
JAYARATNE: That is what we have recently
developed as the Web Based Control
Telescope technology based in
at the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for
Modern Technologies in Sri Lanka.
When will it available to all interested
GUNASEKERA: Actually it is being done.
We are going to publish it, may be possibly
JAYARATNE: You know, the technology
is developed now.
What is that technology? What is its name?
GUNASEKERA: That is Telescope Controller
: Then do you think that one major asteroid
could be detected before hitting of earth,
and could be change its direction based
on your scientific research & observation.
Can you elaborate on that?
JAYARATNE: Not within this. The asteroids
so far that has been discovered in the
world, the major catastrophe will not
be taken for sure not within this period
but there are new ones coming and those
are, in some cases we detect them, they
are just pass the earth only. So, therefore,
the technology is not so developed as
you think of in this particular area.
So, we cannot say the scientists use separate,
it needs another twenty years, to develop
this technology and to come into sort
of 100% prevention, and you have to detect
it and destroy it. This capacity will
take another 20 years but it is not a
single effort, it is an international
effort actually. Everybody has to collaborate.
Yes. You also said that, there are other
applications. What are the other applications
under the space applications at the ACC
Institute for Modern Technologies?
JAYARATNE: In addition to this asteroid
observation, the telescope can be used
for scientific research.
JAYARATNE: Such as observing …
We have all the instruments like photometer,
spectrometer, etc. So, you can do whatsoever
the observation that any other person
in any other country is doing. But, basically,
our targets are, there are undiscovered
or characteristics of certain variable
stars, etc., in the southern part of the
hemisphere. So, for those things, we can actually
use in this telescope. Also, there are
lots of things to discover and we should
not do it ourselves but anybody else if
they want to do it. Now, they have the
capability because of this Web Based Control
OK, let's say, telescope has mainly established
for observing, detecting asteroids’,
and its hitting the earth risks, but also
what are other usage and benefits of it?
JAYARATNE: Astronomic observations…
What are other main divisions under the
ACC Institute for Modern Technologies?
GUNASEKERA: Space Application
Division is one of the divisions in Arthur
C Clarke Institute. So, other divisions
are Electronic division, Communication
division and IT division and the Industrial
Relation Service division. So, Space Application
division is one of them.
Dr. JAYARATNE: Our main role is to promote and to do astronomical
research here. Although Remote Sensing
(RS) and Geographical Information System
(GIS), that is RSGIS.
Would you please just briefly define us
what is RSGIS? Just as a definition.
JAYARATNE: Basically, as you know,
even astronomy needs a remote… because
we don’t go to the star and get
information. We get information from the
light emitted from those. But here, in
S.A.D. we have another division, which
is called RSGIS (Remote Sensing and Geographical
Information System). So, of course, we
are now developing, still, we are in this
particular case. Remote sensing means
that taking the information from distance,
I mean, let’s say from a satellite
that we have done some research. Before
the Tsunami and after the Tsunami, we
have taken satellite pictures of certain
parts of the country and you have seen
the GIS techniques. We estimated the damage
of the houses and other information like
the coastline safety belt. These all can
be estimated through satellite pictures.
So, that is one part of, one section of
this space application division. Basically,
two: One is Astronomy, the other one is
"Telescope is looking up, satellites
are looking down."
Stars Spectra, Photo Credit:: ACCIMT,
OK, now, since you mentioned the Tsunami
and I know that still anything comes a
year that is the circulation effect. So,
it is obvious that you haven’t detected
in time. But, is this telescope has that
capacity or added another capacity after
the Tsunami that if anything happens after
Tsunami are you going to be able to detect
it early enough, and then at least warn
people ahead of its time? Does it have
that kind of capacity? For instance, some
of the satellites I aware of that they
are capable to detect from the waves or
clouds what is coming up?
JAYARATNE: The telescope has nothing
to do with this RS & GIS section.
That is completely different system. Telescope
is astronomy and satellite, that is space
science, but not related with astronomy.
Telescope is looking up, satellites are
This is a great summary.
When do you expect to launch one?
JAYARATNE: So, they are of course
another application steps. You can develop
the technology to digitize the world,
the Sri Lankan map and put typing depths
and then all those things can be indicated
on it. For example, those are some applications
actually, but more applicable to the general
public whereas astronomy is not considered
as a subject where you are. But it is
for the development of scientific knowledge
and indicates that there are a lot of
them they are like this Moon landing has
given us a lot of items.
What about Opportunity and Spirit's
data from Mars? In some way, do you able
to benefit from those data?
JAYARATNE: I don't think we should
talk that thing with this scope, may be
later we can discuss about Mars. We are
not in orbit they are in! But, of course,
there are some Sri Lankans in developing
certain fictions of Mars. Actually the
problem is now we have to get information
from other satellites and we tried this
in Tsunami research and we couldn't find
two pictures just before Tsunami, and
just after Tsunami. And actually one certain
part of the country, it was 1-year difference.
Therefore, you cannot say, let’s
say, Tsunami was on July 2004 and satellite
picture can be 4-5 months later on that
particular radiant. If we do not have
our own satellites for our country, we
cannot use Remote Sensing
in a meaningful way on certain applications.
Now, actually, we have to limit our attention
to launch satellite test.
JAYARATNE: It is a long way to go in
order to launch a satellite.. But, one day
we have to do it! At the moment, we have
to take data from India, from other countries
and there are a lot of restrictions due
to military problems.
Actually the person who is the innovator
of Satellite Communication system, Sir
Arthur C. Clarke lives in here (Sri
Lanka), and this Institute is under His
name. But, we actually do not have the capability
yet to launch our own satellite. So, that
is a pity.
So, I suppose, that is also your dream
to launch your own satellite. What is
the most realistic duration to realize
that dream? For instance: Turkey has one.
JAYARATNE: Well, most of the countries
they do have. Because, well, in that case,
I will say that our politicians, they,
perhaps do not have the courage to think
about it! Because, they think it is very
expensive. But, on the contrary, they
have made some negotiations within some
scientists within the U.S. And, now they
are going to spend on satellite for us.
We have to share data with them. They
have this agreement. So, this is even
under UN collaboration. This is now, you
know, emergency and we also discuss it
UK scientists to develop some of satellite
components for them so that, you know,
to start somewhere. I mean, you have to
start launching the satellite, you have
to start from somewhere, and you have
to start from smaller things like probes,
development of probes and then the whole
satellite. So, we have to, we discussed
with Indian Space research Institute and
there are people to launch this force
actually if we develop. So, we are trying
various approaches but it is at the baby
stage now I would say, you have to get
government approval also.
What is your projection to realize that
stage? Let's say 2 years, 3 years from
this point on?
JAYARATNE: It will be 15 to 20 years
I would say. Yes, in any case, to start
it even in India the same time period.
So, you have already started!
Let's go back to the Web Based Telescope
Controller project. How did it develop?
GUNASEKERA: As you know, now
when you want to observe through a telescope,
you should be in front of the telescope.
So, normally, at a time, one observer
does the observation through a telescope.
So, we were thinking of sharing information,
sharing astronomical data with other colleagues
as well as foreign astronomers. So, we
are in the phase of developing a web based
telescope controller where you can control
the telescope through the Web. First,
you have to login to our web site.
Can anyone login?
Is it going to be with a fee based?
GUNASEKERA: First, you should
S. GUNASEKERA: Yes, you have to pay
some amount, nominal fee, and first you
have to be authorized user. Once you get
registered at our Web site, then you are
an authorized user. So, then you will be
allocated some time frame where you can
do your observation from your location.
I mean, if you are in America, now, it is
evening there but it is daytime for us,
What is your main expectations from
this new application?
GUNASEKERA: Web based telescope
controller is meant for controlling a telescope
from a remote location. So, any user can
control this telescope while sitting in
front of his/her computer. For example,
a user from America can control this telescope
through Internet. First, he has to get registered
at our web site. May be he/she has to pay
some nominal fee, but we haven’t fixed
it yet. We haven’t made any criteria
yet to decide how much he/she is going to
pay but at the end of this project we are
going to fix the fees and all relevant information,
which will be available on our web site.
What about the requirements or capacity
of the computer?
GUNASEKERA: If you have normal Internet
facility in your computer, you will be able
From any computer with an Internet access?
Even through dial-up modem!
GUNASEKERA: If you have it, yes. The
main need is to have an Internet connection
on any computer?
That is it? Just to connect to Internet
will allow me to control your telescope?
GUNASEKERA: You should have the connectivity,
and then you can login to our site.
So, anyone can login anywhere, any part
of the world if they have a connection
even though, let’s say, and can
I connect from an Internet cafe?
you can. Just to give the simplicity.
You have to get the time allocation. That
is the main fact. You have to first get
a time allocation because there will be
a lot of users. We will allocate time
slots on first come first served basis.
So, once you get your time allocation,
you are allowed to control the telescope
while sitting in front of your computer.
So, it is going to be kind of in an order
or line-up. Not everyone can login at
the same time!
GUNASEKERA: No. At a time only one
user can control the telescope.
JAYARATNE: Can I interrupt for a moment?
It may not easy to control it each time
once an authorized user logged in. Because
this telescope is very expensive one.
If there is rain here, the person on the
other end may not know that there is rain.
It will automatically open the telescope
power and the roof will be moved, once
they log in into the computer from the
US or any other country, accordingly the
telescope will go up and it will check
the weather condition. If there is rain
coming, there is rain detector on it,
automatically will shut down the roof
and the telescope will become into the
rest down position. So, this telescope
has those capabilities as well. So, this
is very complicated program and teamwork.
If weather is OK, then it will move up,
and allow to access it o observe to any
star or any planet from America in Sri
Lanka’s sky. I mean, this is very
important because a person in the States,
he/she can control simultaneously the
telescope in the other part of the sky.
This is, I consider that an opportunity
to all interested users.
So, is this a collaborated project? If
it is so, who are the partners of it?
Based Telescope Controller)
GUNASEKERA: Actually this is the first
time such a project available in Sri Lanka.
In the world, there are several telescopes
available for other remote users. In America,
they have and I think in Europe also they
have. In Japan, also they have. But in
Sri Lanka, this is the first time that
we developed such a system to make available
the telescope to general public and other
LM: That is wonderful!
S. GUNASEKERA: Those telescopes in
other countries, it is very difficult
to get the time. Because, there are so
many registered scientists. They will
be a queue inside their country. Whereas,
here in Sri Lanka, of course we do research
but the access is very easy. And also,
our manpower is not so expensive, it is
very cheap. That is, in southern hemisphere,
yet unexplored, and there are most of
the objects in southern hemisphere, anybody
LM: I would like to get all the updates
when you have launched and promote it.
Because, this is a great news to share
with others. When it is going to be launched
and available for potential users Worldwide?
GUNASEKERA: I must say now, being
a developing country in Sri Lanka, we
have a lot of poor students, poor people.
They are very poor, they cannot afford
to buy a new telescope or they don’t
have money to have their own telescope.
Once we publish this program and make
it available on the Web to access to the
telescope, any poor young students, and
mature who are interested in space and
astronomy within Sri Lanka and any part
of the world, they will be able to access
and control it. Because it is open to
LM: This is the best news I ever heard
since I came to Sri Lanka this year. What
are the other expected beneficiaries of
this whole program and what will be its
GUNASEKERA: When they publish something
using this data, naturally they will have
to say the type of the telescope and where
the data was collected. So, that is all
actually. The acknowledgement will be
there. So, other than that and for that
purpose, during the last 5 years period,
actually, we spent all our time on calibrating
the instruments of this telescope and
we have published several research papers.
We have started Be types of stars
and then galaxies and the expansion of
the universe and all these things and
compared them with internationally recognized
observatories and those data and they
were precisely the same. So, that guarantee
has been done so we have actually gradually
come in this process this far. After the
commissioning, we already done research
in other countries, and said that this
telescope is capable of these things.
With this particular accuracy, now is
the next step is anybody can use it. Because
they don’t have to come and see
the calibration of it. <Please
visit for updates about the Web Based
Telescope Controller project on the
Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern
Technologies’ Web site: http://www.accimt.ac.lk/
LM: I consider that this is sort of a "revolution"
that space observation will be available
to public in local level in Sri Lanka
as well as in global level on the Web?
JAYARATNE: Yes, we can say so…
Only one thing that everyone has to work
on it, you know, one after another, only
one at a time. Otherwise, data without
any calibration has no use. So, therefore,
an international research has to be conducted.
You have to calibrate the instrument,
and those things we have done and said
that it is public in Sri Lanka and in
The scientists, astronomers, when they
sign on, they most likely will know what
to do. In particular for kids and teens
those reflect interest in relation to
space issues, how could those young potentials
be thought and instructed to calibrate
the telescope from other parts of the
world on the Web, and enabling them to
look stars? In another word, is there
going to be an instruction or guideline
on your Web site for those potential kids
JAYARATNE: Now, for this purpose within Sri Lanka we have a special
program. That is 6-day residential workshop
on astronomy, which is open for students.
These students are from 15 to 21 years
old category. They will be taken here
day and night …they may have a residential
place and trained how to use this telescope
for spectrometric studies and for …studies,
and also basic astronomy. And in that
perspective Sri Lanka is also covered
for those who are beginners. And we have
another course for the adults, certificate
course on astronomy that is 6 months school
version. And we train them also...
Is that just free to all interested students
and adults or fee based training courses
For instance, 6 months for adults and for
the students, how much is it?
JAYARATNE: It is actually paid workshops
but scholarships will be given to poor
rupees (~$600) is for the special workshop,
and actually they receive a certificate.
That is for 6 days or 6 months?
JAYARATNE: 6 days one. Full days,
JAYARATNE: Night also.
Night and day, 6 days, residential for
students, 6000 rupees, there will be available
scholarship for poor. What about the adults
for 6 months?
is 12000 rupees (~$1200).
No that is weekends only. 6 months duration
but weekends only. And that is in project
as well. Astronomy project.
For instance, if I could manage to register
and attend the 6-month program for adults,
how could I apply for it? Or, if someone
wants to come here for this purpose, is
your program open to international participations
and what type of visa will be required?
Dr. JAYARATNE: Of course, this particular workshop, we have
to first cater to our nation. So, people
from India and other countries, they do
have their own telescopes and astronomy
courses. So, anybody who will come here
will come to gather data rather than to
learn. So, may be in future, we will consider
about those things like online courses
on astronomy, something like that. Of
course we have to be keen about developing
a course jointly with Colombo University
"Master of Science in Astronomy".
That will be our next stage, and where
we can extend it even for Web based degree
program and like that. So, that is our
next stage. At the moment, also, we have
done a lot of research for undergraduate
students through this telescope, basically,
from Colombo University special degree
students, and also some come from India.
So, there is this collaboration with universities.
you so much.
-- To be continue...
Part 3 - Interview with Janaka ADASSURIYA, ACC Institute
for Modern Technologies, on the Space
Awareness Program will be e-published
in the next issue.
The interview transcribed by: Aysel Toprakli
Special Thanks to: Ayca Bahce
* * * * *
Mission of the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies:
ACCIMT endeavor is to improve quality of life of our people with
the help of modern technologies, research
and development, and will collaborate
in national capability development through:
* Industry-Institute partnerships
* Research and Development
* Enhancing technological know-how in related
* Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
* Inputs for industrial development and educational
A Brief History of the Arthur C. Clarke Institute For Modern
(Abstracted from the brochure of the ACCIMT)
The Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies (ACCIMT)
was established in 1984 by an Act of Parliament
to accelerate the process of introduction
and development of modern technologies
in the fields of Communications, Computers,
Energy, Space Technologies and Robotics
through the provision of training and
research facilities. Basic infrastructure
was established in 1986 and the technical
activities commenced in early 1987. Today
the center is actively involved in the
areas of communications, computers, and
applications of microelectronics where
a team of electronic engineers and other
related professionals are working towards
self reliance in the areas related to
modern technologies. (Source: ACCIMT brochure)
More on the Light Millennium:
- A Vision of Sri Lanka for Twenty-First Century - April 2003
For more information:
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