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The Centre for Space Research is one of the few centres of excellence at the NWU, and envisions to be a world-class research centre, with excellent academic staff, students, postdocs, and support personnel undertaking cutting-edge research, both at the fundamental level and in applications. With its precursors having started research in the 1950s, the CSR has a long history of excellence in research on space physics and astrophysics.

The research done by members in the CSR can be classified into three broad themes: space (heliospheric) physics, astronomy (high energy astrophysics, optical and radio astronomy, cosmology), and development of innovative technologies.

The Centre has about 25 full-time academic, 6 support, and over 20 extraordinary research staff members on both the Mahikeng and Potchefstroom campuses. Of these, one is an NRF A-rated (leading scholar), six are B-rated (internationally recognised), four C-rated (established), one Y-rated (promising), and one P-rated (prestigious)  researchers, as well as two B-rated professors emeriti.

It hosts around 15 postdoctoral research fellows, and around 20 PhD, 40 MSc and 15 honours students in a typical year.  Competitive bursaries are available for prospective students and postdocs.

Research partnerships and collaborations

Members of the CSR are actively involved in the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the upcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the MeerKAT Radio Telescope and play a leading role in the forthcoming Cerenkov Telescope Array (CTA). In addition, the Centre is the primary SA member of the highly successful High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S) collaboration. This telescope is currently the largest ground-based gamma-ray observatory in the world. Furthermore, CSR researchers established the SA Gamma-Ray Astronomy Programme (SA-GAMMA) to coordinate national research efforts in high-energy astrophysics activities which has about 30 members from 5 national institutions. The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has the mandate to derive greater value from space science and technology for the benefit of the South African society. Members of the CSR are working closely with SANSA in the training of the next generation Space Scientists and collaborating on research projects. In 2015 the CSR became one of two new nodes for the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP). This is to ensure that the SA government’s investments in astronomy and space science bear fruit. The NWU’s node became fully operational in January 2016 with the first intake of post-graduate students in this programme.

We will soon host one of the five nodes of the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences (NITheCS), a consortium of 25 South African universities that aspires to support high-impact research in the fundamental sciences and train the next generation of South African scientists through high-end education and training.

If you are a prospective staff member, postdoctoral fellow, or student, please join us in this exciting academic environment and our journey to understand the universe on all scales and wavelengths.

For any enquiries please contact: Ms Elanie Van Rooyen.