Precision Farming trial findings: Satellite Based Augmentation System yields positive results

SBAS SANSA's Navigation unit completed three Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) trials during the months of February and March 2013. Together with the trials, a Lead User Group meeting was held at Hartebeesthoek to confirm user requirements and illustrate the importance of this development to Treasury.

The first trial was held in Heidelberg from 26-28 February 2013 and was based on Precision Farming. Following that, the second took place in Gauteng together with Tracker; and the final GIS trial took place at the Kruger National Park in March 2013. The trials objectives were to illustrate the necessity of an improved navigation system, by comparing the results of a normal GPS to that of the SBAS.

For the Precision Farming trial, a tractor equipped with both the standard GPS as well as the SBAS was driven along specified lines on the farm. To test their accuracy, breaks were taken in between and the 'same' positions resumed – simulating a typical farming pattern. Results from the trial prove that the SBAS unit is indeed more accurate than the current GPS being used; and that the system could potentially eliminate several challenges faced by farmers.

SANSA to support radio astronomy infrastructure in Africa

RadioAstronFollowing the signing of the RadioAstron space satellite agreement between the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) at the 5th BRICS Summit held in Durban this year, SANSA will be responsible for the installation, operations and maintenance of the receiving antennae.

The RadioAstron satellite was launched on 18 July 2011 and carries a radio telescope that will obtain images and coordinates of various radio-emitting objects. As a single, virtual telescope, it will be the world's largest radio telescope, with a "dish" measuring approximately 390 000 km. The mission has an expected lifetime of five years and will support and improve investment in radio astronomy infrastructure in Africa and complement radio astronomy facilities such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), enhancing the continent's reputation as a premier destination for radio astronomy.

Women taking on a previously male-dominated profession

Satellite TechniciansSANSA Space Operations is proud to welcome two vibrant, young ladies to the Satellite Operations team, as In-Service Trainees.

More Enicca Moloi (MM) and Betty Ntebogeng Ntlhe (BN) are both students from Tshwane South College who have completed all theoretical modules and the required practical training at the institute's training centre. On completion of their in-service training, both ladies will be awarded with a Diploma in Electrical Engineering: Heavy Current.

So you may ask yourself is it coincidence that the new trainees are both women, study at the same institute, are working towards the same qualification and are both working predominantly with men? We chat to Yunus Bhayat (YB), SANSA Space Operations TT&C Manager; More and Betty about what the job of a Satellite Operations Technician entails:

Photo: Betty Ntebogeng Ntlhe (left) and More Enicca Moloi (right), two in-service trainees at SANSA Space Operations

SANSA’s Ku-IOT antenna update

Ku-IOT antennaOn Valentine's Day 2013, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) received an eagerly-awaited gift – a new Ku-IOT antenna. The SANSA Space Operations' 9m Ku-IOT antenna is now being assembled by Stratosat on site, at Hartebeesthoek. The antenna's foundation and equipment shelter were completed prior to the antenna and related equipment arrival, for installation.

This Ku-IOT antenna has been procured in response to the growing demand by satellite owners for ground facilities essential to test the in-orbit communications performance of new geostationary satellites.

The Ku-IOT is a limited motion antenna. It has Ku-band up and downlink, as well as DBS band uplink capability. Uplink performance is specified at an EIRP of 85dBW and downlink performance at better than 35 dB/K. The antenna will be linked into SANSA Space Operations' new IOT facility once the facility has been completed.

Final SATSA training workshop held in Madrid

SATSA trainingSince the beginning of the year, the Madrid-based company GMV has been collaborating with SANSA to increase the technological satellite-navigation capacity (GNSS) in South Africa. Ahead of the extension to this region of the European navigation system EGNOS, GMV is leading the SBAS Awareness and Training for South Africa (SATSA) project which forms part of the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

The fourth training session, given over to SBAS Operations, Maintenance and Service Provision; was held on the 13th and 14th of November 2012 at the AENA's ESSP Operations Centre at the Torrejon Air Force base near Madrid. The training was organised by GMV and focused on operations, maintenance and service provision including training lectures from ESSP staff. The training addressed topics such as EGNOS services, performance, roadmap NOTAM and the LPV implementation status in Europe. Representing SANSA Space Operations, Eugene Avenant and Farhad Hassim attended the training.

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