Maram Kairè has become the first Senegalese and the first Senegalese astronomer to have an asteroid named after him. The 42-year-old astronomer was recognized by the International Astronomical Union for his contributions to space exploration and his commitment to promoting astronomy in his homeland, Senegal. Maram Kairè is an astronomer and network engineer.
Maram Kairè was born in Dakar, the capital of Senegal in 1978. Maram was passionate about astronomy at a very young age. At the age of twelve , he started reading books about space exploration. Maram’s favourite book when he was a teenage boy was Patience in Azure by astrophysicist Hubert Reeves. At the age of 14, Maram Kairè started making telescopes. This was when he knew what he wanted to do with his life, but his parents didn’t support his ideas at the initial stage.
“People associated astronomy with meteorology, there was mockery, people who said: ‘you look at the stars, you are going to go crazy’ …And here in Senegal, it was not taught at all, so after the baccalaureate, we had to make a compromise with my parents and especially my father.”
The asteroid was discovered by French astronomer Alain Maury, in 1998. The asteroid, before now, was numbered 35462 1998 DW 23 and is part of the main belt of celestial bodies orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. According to a report by the International Astronomical Union, the celestial body makes a complete orbit around the sun in 4.36 earth years.
Beyond my name, it is the whole of Senegal that is honoured. Generation after generation, when this asteroid is studied by the world’s scientific community, Senegal’s name will be in the minds of the world. And that’s the most important thing.”
The President of Senegal Macky Sall also sends a congratulatory message to astronomer Maram Kairè saying “the government will be at his side in the promotion of astronomy.” Senegal’s former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Mary Teuw Niane, who also happens to be a close friend to Maram Kairè added that “From now on the name of Maram Kaïré floats in the Sky, standard-bearer of Senegal and Africa.”
Maram Kairè has contributed immensely to the subject of space exploration in schools, colleges, universities, and communities in Senegal. In 2006, he founded the Senegalese Association for the Promotion of Astronomy (ASPA) to promote astronomy and educate young and passionate Senegalese about astronomy and its importance.
Maram Kairè has also led two space missions for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Senegal. According to Maram, he believes “space is a lever for development”. He added, “For education and distance education, telemedicine, agriculture, satellite data is a major issue”.
Maram started several projects in Senegal like the astronomical observatory, the planetarium, the Center for the construction of microsatellites and the Senegalese Astronomical Agency.