SANSA Space Science Programmes and Projects

SANSA Space Science research and services are managed by means of various programmes and projects.

Space Weather Programme

Space-weather-warning-services-11SANSA Space Science is host to the Space Weather Regional Warning Centre for Africa which operates as part of the International Space Environment Service (ISES). The Space Weather Centre provides an important service to the nation by monitoring the Sun and its activity to provide information, early warnings and forecasts on space weather conditions. The space weather products and services are required primarily for communication and navigation systems, in the defence, aeronautics, navigation and communication sectors.

Find out more about the space weather products and services at the SANSA Space Weather Centre


Space Science Research Programme

IMG 6745In order to obtain up-to-date information on the ionosphere and magnetosphere, as well as data to validate theoretical models it is essential to monitor the space environment over a very large area. SANSA Space Science is currently responsible for monitoring the space environment over the Southern African region, Indian and Atlantic oceans as well as the South Pole, and forms part of a global network of similar organisations throughout the world. Instruments are deployed throughout South Africa, Namibia, Antarctica, Marion Island and Gough Island. The research areas covered by this programme are diverse and include studies on the variation of the Earth's geomagnetic field and its application to navigation; the propagation of waves in the various regions of the space environment and their effects; diagnostic information on the propagation media; ionospheric characterisation; basic and applied space weather; space plasmas; and radio wave propagation.


SANSA Space Science's Remote Areas Project

IPY Banner over SANAE base 2 Credit Anton FeunSANSA Space Science is a key player in the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) and has several ongoing space science and space weather related projects in Antarctica, as well as Marion Island and Gough Island.  SANSA is particularly interested in polar research since the inward-curving magnetic lines at the pole provide the perfect opportunity to do space particle research. Research conducted by SANSA includes the monitoring of space weather to provide data related to the effect of space weather on communication satellites.   The project involves the installation and maintenance of scientific instruments in Antarctic, Marion Island and Gough Island, and is supported by the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) with logistical support provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).


South African Ionospheric Geophysics and Geomagnetic Experimental Resource (SNIGGER) Project

IMG 1695Magnetotellurics (MT) is an electromagnetic geophysical method of imaging the Earth's subsurface by measuring natural variations of electrical and magnetic fields at the Earth's surface. Commercial uses include hydrocarbon (oil and gas) exploration, geothermal exploration, mining exploration, as well as hydrocarbon and groundwater monitoring. Research applications include experimentation to further develop the MT technique, long-period deep crustal exploration, and Earthquake precursor prediction research.
SANSA Space Science is installing MT Stations in various locations around South Africa to observe and study the variations in the ionosphere and in geomagnetically-induced currents. The equipment forms an analytical research system for observing the link between the magnetosphere, the ionosphere and the Earth's surface.



SANSA Space Science is an active participant in the FP7 and COST European Union projects, including the PLASMON project. SANSA is one of the principal investigative partners working on the PLASMON project in collaboration with representatives from eight countries. This project aims to investigate the plasmasphere, an area roughly 1 500 km above the Earth's surface, using distributed ground networks of advanced instrumentation.

Human Capital Development Programme

WinterSchoolAspiring to address the country's skills needs in the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) domain and the acutely low (28.3%) enrolment in the SET fields, SANSA utilises the novelties associated with space as a vehicle to stimulate interest in SET. SANSA Space Science contributes to this initiative by means of summer and winter schools, the supervision of MSc and PhD students, as well as teaching at partner universities. SANSA also runs various in-service courses in navigational support and space weather for the defence force, training about 80 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) staff members each year.


Science Advancement

SANSA Space Science aims to promote awareness and interest in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) among the youth, educators, the general public and policy-makers through a successful Science Advancement Programme. The majority of the activities are hosted within the SANSA Science Centre and from the SANSA Space Lab, a state-of-the-art interactive mobile laboratory. The activities are specifically aimed at teachers and learners with an emphasis on practical learning programmes.

The impact is in providing:

  • outreach programmes for schools and learners
  • workshops for science educators
  • communication tools such as tele-education
  • decision-making tools and information
If you would like to find out more about the SANSA Space Science Directorate please join the team for a fascinating tour of the facility. The tour is free of charge and takes place every Wednesday from 11:00-12:00. Please contact 028 312 1196 for additional info and bookings.

Holiday programme mobile Lab


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