The science of radio astronomy plays a key role in increasing our understanding of the environment and the universe in which we live. By its nature it is a passive service, so it never causes interference to other users of radio, but unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect radio astronomy operations from radio interference as use of the spectrum increases for both terrestrial and space-borne communications. On behalf of European radio astronomers, the Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies of the European Science Foundation (CRAF) coordinates activities to keep the frequency bands used by radio astronomy and space sciences free from interference. It works towards this aim by:
- Co-ordinating the case for radio astronomy and space sciences in Europe in discussions with the major public and private telecommunications agencies.
- Acting as the European voice in concert with other groups of radio astronomers in discussions within the international bodies that decide on the use of radio spectrum.
- Initiating and encouraging scientific studies aimed at reducing interference at source and the effects of interference.
Also, CRAF works on behalf of IRAM – Institut de Radio Astronomie Millimétrique and of IVS – International VLBI Service for Geodesy, which use for their scientific research the same bands as the radio astronomy.
South Africa is also a member of CRAF.