Verneukpan Spirals

Verneukpan is a dry salt pan south of Kenhardt in the province of the Northern Cape. The region contains very little vegetation, primarily very low shrubs and yellow grass amongst a rocky desert like landscape. The pan has in the past been used as grounds for land speed record attempts. In 1929, Sir Malcolm Campbell attempted to break the land speed record in his Napier-Campbell Blue bird and in 1952 Vic Proctor tried to set the world motorcycle record on his Vincent Black Lighting.

This SPOT 6 image captured in 2016 shows hundreds of spiral features which have been etched into the landscape. The origin of these spectacular spirals have caused controversy of late all around the world. Some have speculated that the spirals are remnants of an ancient Nazca like civilization while others believe they are the work of extra-terrestrial visitors. These spirals are actually irrigation/plowing circles which have been created with a contour trencher. The purpose being to break-up hard pans to trap rainfall and improve infiltration, and promote the rejuvenation of resident grasses and the germination, emergence, and establishment of seeded grasses.

Image credits: Map produced at SANSA Earth Observation. SPOT 6 Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.


Gariep Dam

This SPOT 6 image taken 27 April 2016 shows the Gariep Dam, near the town of Norvalspont, bordering the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces.   The Dam, opened 1972 is the largest in South Africa and is primarily purposed for irrigation, domestic and industrial use as well power generation.  In satellite imagery clear water absorbs most of the wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum thus appearing dark.  In this example, water in the reservoir (i.e. west of the Dam wall) appears green and brown in the Orange river.  The differences in colour are due to the amount of sediment concentration in the water.  SANSA Earth Observation call on all South Africans to conserve our precious water resources.  For more information on water conservation please visit Rand Water’s Water Wise website from the link provided below.

Image credits:  Produced at SANSA Earth Observation.  SPOT6: Copyright © Airbus DS 2013. All rights reserved.   

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SANSA takes lead in implementing EO Capacity Building and Data Democracy Programmes in Africa

Deliberations amongst a group of remote sensing expects at the G7 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations Working Group, technology and employment, recognised the value of space based technology for the benefit of society. Subsequently, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) was established in September 1984 following a recommendation made by the remote sensing expects at the G7 summit.

The principal objectives of CEOS during its inception were to optimize the benefits of space born earth observation through the cooperation of its members in mission planning, to develop harmonized Earth Observation resources by enabling the user community to access and use remote sensing data. 2; to serve as a focal point for international coordination of space-related Earth Observation activities. 3; to exchange policy and technical information to encourage compatibility of observation and data exchange systems. However, over the years, a lot has changed in the manner at which satellite data is collected and disseminated to the end users. As such, CEOS has also responded to the changes by expanding its responsibilities including the formation of space based earth observation working groups focusing on different thematic areas such as the Working Group on Capacity Development and Data Democracy (WGCapD).

Landsat 8 aiding in fire investigations in South Africa

Landsat 8 false colour composite (R:2 G:5 B:7) showing fires in black and the fire’s plumes in red. The image was captured 10 February in Worcester, Western Cape. The wind at the time was from a north-westerly direction as evidenced by the smoke plume’s south-easterly displacement in the image.

Imagery such as this Landsat 8 is used in fire investigations. This entails calculating the extent of the fires as well as determining the points of origin. Fire investigations are a SANSA Earth Observation value added service.

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Image credits: Landsat 8. USGS. All rights reserved.


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Operation Phakisa: SANSA prepares key national expertise

This second SAR training and tour of key space institutions in Japan entailed advanced training on Remote Sensing and GIS technologies. The delegation was made up of ten (10) delegates, representing the following government departments and state institutions:- SANSA; South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA); Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA); Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS); Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF); Agricultural Research Council (ARC); and Statistics South Africa (StatsSA).

The delegation was welcomed at the JICA Headquarters in Tokyo by the President of the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan (RESTEC), Mr Kanime Ikeda. The main components of the tour were hands-on technical training on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) applications and tour of key Japan state institutions such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 

Visit to Tsukuba Space Centre

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