Origins of Radio Astronomy at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the role of J. L. Pawsey

W. M. Goss*
NRAO, PO Box 0, Socorro, New Mexico 87801, USA

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I will discuss the interactions of a number of individuals that played major roles in the formation of radio astronomy in India in the period 1952-1962, particularly Dr. Joseph L. Pawsey. The story began in 1953-1954: Pawsey brought Govind Swarup to Australia as a Colombo Fellow in 1953, where he worked with Christiansen, Mills,Wild and Bolton. Later, Swarup went to Stanford where he completed a PhD with Ron Bracewell working on the new Solar Microwave Spectroheliograph. In the era 1960-1963, with the encouragement of Pawsey, several colleagues in Australia and Bracewell, discussions began among a number of Indian colleagues to form a radio astronomy group in India. The main players were G. Swarup, T.K. Menon, M.R. Kundu and T. Krishnan. Homi J. Bhabha, the Director of TIFR, made the decisive offer to this group to start a radio astronomy project in early 1962. Swarup joined TIFR in early April 1963. Many factors contributed to the successful formation of the new group: international networking among scientists of several generations, rapid decisions by Bhabha and the readiness to take chances in choosing promising, young, energetic scientists. In December 2013, we have celebrated 50 years of ground breaking research by the TIFR radio astronomers as well as the outstanding decade of research with the GMRT- the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope. Govind Swarup has provided the inspiration and leadership for this remarkable achievement.

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