SANSA Space Science News

From Africa, for Africa – contributing to science and the world community

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Early-career research excellence has again seen Dr John Bosco Habarulema, a space science researcher at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in Hermanus, as the recipient of an award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) – this time as one of two winners of the prestigious 2016 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science.

Established in 2015, these twin awards – in space science and Earth/ocean sciences – recognise early-career scientists from the African continent for outstanding contributions to research in Earth and space sciences. "I offer my congratulations and thanks to this esteemed group of individuals," said Margaret Leinen, AGU President. "Their contributions to science and the world community are outstanding and have also helped AGU take a further step toward its vision of a sustainable future."

John will be attending the annual Honours Ceremony and Banquet at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco on 14 December this year to receive his award.

Space Agency July Holiday Programme

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Island science in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean

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The overwintering exodus to Marion Island this year saw SANSA researcher, Dr Stefan Lotz, accompany Travis Duck, an engineer and member of the 73rd Marion expedition (M73), to assist with the takeover from returning engineer, Pierre Joubert, a member of M72, at the conclusion of his 14-month sojourn on the Island.

Located almost 2 000 km southeast of Cape Town, the meteorological and biological research station on Marion Island, which is run by the South African National Antarctic Programme to carry out vital research throughout the year, houses about 20 scientists and engineers as its only human inhabitants. Otherwise the island is home to birds and mammals, such as the wandering albatross, fur seals and killer whales that are perfectly visible in the clear water.

Marion Island, situated at 46°52'34" South 37°51'32" East, lies close to Prince Edward Island in the southern Indian Ocean. The two islands cover a combined area of 316 square km and constitute the Prince Edward Islands Group that politically forms part of South Africa's Western Cape Province. The islands are volcanic in origin. Marion Island, which is 19 km long by 12 km wide and the higher of the two islands, has small lakes and many hillocks (secondary craters), with Mascarin peak as the highest point at 1 230m and permanently covered in snow and ice. The island has little vegetation, mainly mosses and ferns, with some lichen in its centre, and boggy terrain due to the abundant snow and rain. The persistent, strong westerly winds, typically occurring at southern latitudes between 40 and 50 degrees (known as the Roaring Forties), ensure that no trees grow on the Island.

Space Talk at SANSA - How Space Weather Impacts Future Human Space Exploration

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If you are in the Western Cape area and would like to attend this fascinating talk RSVP now to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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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".

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