Science is for girls

Girl learners1"Globally, women occupy only 25 per cent of senior management positions and, in 2008/2009, were on average paid 23% less than men," this is according to the United Nations under its third Millennium Development Goal which is to promote gender equality and empower women.

For the second year running, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) united with Cell C to take part in its Take a Girl Child to Work Day on 30 May 2013. This is part of SANSA's drive to stimulate interest in science and develop capacity in space science and technologies in South Africa.

"As a woman working in a technical environment, I am able to witness the challenges and stereotypes that we as women are faced with; and share my amazing experiences of how to overcome these barriers," says Gladys Magagula, Mission Control Specialist at SANSA's Space Operations directorate and host for the day. "We want to expose these girls to career choices that are totally out of this world."

SANSA hosted 35 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 from Mandisa Shiceka Secondary School, in the nearby Krugersdorp area. The theme for the day was Science is for girls and the learners were treated to a fun-filled programme followed by lunch, a tour of the facility and the handing out of goodie bags.

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.

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