SANSA Earth Observation History

A view of South Africa's Earth Observation history

SANSA Earth Observation has in excess of 30 years history of receipt of Satellite Earth Observation data. Dating back as early as December 1978, when the first images were received from Meteosat 1, a European geostationary meteorological satellite, resulting in the birth of the satellite remote sensing centre (SRSC).

In the early eighties Landsat MSS imagery was being received and telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) services were being provided to the French National Space Agency, CNES. Following the CSIR changes in 1989, the SRSC was renamed the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC). During the same period a major upgrade was completed to provide the SAC with capabilities to receive imagery, process it and archive from earth observation satellites transmitting high resolution imagery in the "X" band. This enabled SAC to receive high resolution thematic Mapper data from the American Landsat series and the French Spot series earth
observation satellites.

The synthetic aperture radar satellites of the European Space Agency were also received in the early nineties.

On 9 December 2010, South Africa's space landscape was transformed with the launch of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). The intent is to converge and optimise resources and maximise the benefits of space services and applications to society.

SANSA comprises of a corporate office which oversees the overall operational capability of SANSA, the SANSA Earth Observation directorate (currently based in Hartebeesthoek), SANSA Space Operations directorate (formerly the Satellite Application Centre - located in Hartebeesthoek) and SANSA Space Sciencedirectorate (former Hermanus Magnetic Observatory - located in Hermanus).

At SANSA Earth Observations, there is active participation in putting satellite data to work to help improve livelihoods in our local communities and across Africa. Satellite imagery database is an invaluable resource and SANSA Earth Observation has been involved in archiving satellite imagery since 1980 and today hosts an impressive archive containing more than 150 terabytes of remote sensing data dating back to 1972.

SANSA has created this remarkable database by acquiring, archiving and processing remotely sensed data from many Earth observation satellites over a period of more than 30 years. The sensors ('eyes') on these satellites cover an area over the southern Africa continent from 3º to 50º degrees south (as far north as Bujumbura in Burundi) to generate a wide variety of data and transmit these as images that range from a low to a very high resolution.

Earth Observation (EO) has globally taken unprecedented importance and is fast becoming an integral part of addressing a wide range of societal needs. These include resource and environmental management; disaster management; food security; global change monitoring;
health, safety and security; planning, development and monitoring.

These efforts are coordinated by various international bodies including theGroup on Earth Observations (GEO), theGlobal Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), and Committee
on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS).

SumbandilaSat images: Pretoria, South Africa

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