The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) was established in 2010. Following a period of rapid growth and transition the agency has made significant advancements towards addressing its mandate of deriving greater value from space science and technology for the benefit of South African society.

Coming Around Again: Giant Sunspot Makes Third Trip Across the Sun

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

Scientists track sunspots that are part of active regions, which often produce large explosions on the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Each time an active region appears it is assigned a number.

Active regions that have survived their trip around the back of the sun and reappear are assigned a new number - a convention left over from when we had no telescopes observing the far side of the sun and so could not be sure that the new sunspot was indeed the same as the old one.

This active region is currently labeled AR11990. Last time around it was labeled AR11967 and its first time it was AR11944.

During its three trips thus far, this region has produced two significant solar flares, labeled as the strongest kind of flare, an X-class.

Understanding Space Plasma

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

Space is not as empty as you think!
While the name suggests that space is empty, that is far from true. Matter released by our sun and space weather events fills the area between our planet and surrounding bodies, and is known as space plasma. Plasma particles are the fourth state of matter (solids, liquids, gasses) and have an effect on how radio transmissions travel through space. It is important for scientists to understand what those effects are. Plasma is always confined by a magnetic field such as the sun's magnetic field, the interplanetary magnetic field or the Earth's magnetic field. 

Three projects offer a deeper understanding of the world of space plasma.
A digital upgrade to the South African SuperDARN radar in Antarctica, the construction of a High Frequency Direction Finding (HF/DF) interferometer array, and the tricky business of uncoiling a wire in space will all come together to give SANSA extended capabilities in space weather monitoring and space plasma studies.

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