SANSA Space Science News

DEVELOPING SCARCE AND CRITICAL SKILLS IN SPACE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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Empowering young women to follow careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) was under the spotlight recently at a YOUTH DAY SPACE PREP workshop in Cape Town where senior SANSA representatives assisted young learners to build small, programmable robotic rovers. The event was part of the Meta Economic Development Organisation (MEDO) SPACE programme to equip school girls in Africa with STEM skills to compete and thrive in a digital future.

The SANSA team who attended at the workshop consisted of Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell, SANSA MD, Eliza Fraser, Science Advancement Manager and Dr Rendani Nndanganeni, Space Science Research Fellow. They were accompanied by an international guest, Prof Mark Moldwin from the Climate and Space Science and Engineering division at the University of Michigan.

Dr Sandile Malinga, SANSA CEO, highlighted that the agency's participation in the workshop is aligned with its science advancement drive to increase the uptake and appreciation of science among the youth in South Africa. "We want to improve scientific literacy among our learners, especially young women, in our drive to position South Africa as an international hub for space solutions for the world of the future".

SANSA Supplier Open Day

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DST Sutherland Science Imbizo

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The small town of Sutherland was buzzing over the long weekend as the local community flocked to engage with the various exhibitions on show at the Department of Science and Technology’s Science Imbizo taking place on 30 April 2016.  The SANSA exhibition proved to be one of the hits of the event as members of the community, both young and old, and even the DST Minister Naledi Pandor, marvelled at the upside down goggles on show. Demonstrating basic physics principles, the goggles turn everything you look at upside down, making it a challenge to navigate through a simple maze.

During the Imbizo, the Minister addressed over 600 members of the local community, emphasising the importance of maths and science and encouraged learners to pursue careers in science and technology. The Minister also invited the community to raise any challenges they were facing in an effort to do her best to address these in the near future.

SANSA participates in multinational space weather research and applications partnership

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SANSA recently hosted representatives from the Met Office, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, RAL Space, and Imperial College London in the UK. The visitors met with SANSA researchers to discuss a multinational space weather project as part of the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Space Programme (IPSP).

The two-pronged focus of the 'Space Weather: the Economic Case' project is to determine the socio-economic impact of the consequences of space weather on the partner countries and exchange knowledge to enhance space weather applications under adverse conditions. The project will also build capacity in developing counties to contribute to the international space weather 'problem' while simultaneously benefitting from the programmes and experience of space-faring nations. "This study will demonstrate how important it is to consider the impacts of space weather," said Catherine Burnett, Space Weather Programme Manager, Met Office.

While space weather has influenced the Earth throughout its history, the impacts on climate and modern technological infrastructures are still poorly understood. Their significant and increasing risk to human activity has only relatively recently been recognised due to the rapid and widespread growth of space weather-sensitive technological systems operating in space, on aircraft and on the ground. "We are hoping that this study will provide a strong business case for the development of a new space weather monitoring satellite to be positioned at L5 which will allow space weather centres across the globe to improve their observation and forecasting abilities," said Burnett.

DemoGRAPE: First scintillation data from the Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System recorded at SA Antarctic base

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Polar travelling in Antarctica may become significantly safer thanks to the DemoGRAPE instrumentation recently deployed at the South African Antarctic base, SANAE IV. In January 2016 these instruments recorded ionospheric scintillations for the first time along signal paths from the European Galileo GNSS network. The aim of this international initiative is to improve the accuracy of satellite navigation in the Polar Regions and develop new scientific and technological applications in Antarctica.

SANSA manages ionospheric scintillation receivers and GPS receivers at SANAE and has been a key collaborator in the DemoGRAPE project. During December 2015, our team at SANAE assisted the Italian National Institute for Geophysical and Vulcanological Research (INGV) and the DemoGRAPE team to install two new technology GNSS receivers and a new-concept data acquisition system to exploit GNSS software receivers to access ionospheric delay from the GPS (US) system of navigation satellites, as well as the Russian GLONASS and European Galileo satellites.

The data from the receivers feed into a Cloud-based (Internetbased) computing system to create a superior platform for data sharing among partner organisations and the scientific community. Three Cloud nodes have been setup, one each at SANSA in Hermanus, INPE in Brazil and INGV in Italy. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) supports the deployment of the new-concept of GNSS data acquisition.

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