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.

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.

Space Talk at SANSA - The Earth's Atmosphere: what makes it so special?

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

The upper atmosphere is strongly coupled to the troposphere by gravity waves and also by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. The height range around 100km is a transition region between Earth's atmosphere and space. Energetic solar radiation is absorbed here, and satellites and meteors blow up at these altitudes. The basic physical processes leading to the thermal structure of the upper atmosphere and to noctilucent clouds are explained in the presentation and potential long term solar cycle variations are discussed.

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