SOUTH AFRICA MAKING STRIDES IN SPACE TECHNOLOGY, SAYS SPACE AGENCY

By Lebo Tshangela

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 5 South African National Space Agency (Sansa) Managing Director Dr Jane Olwoch says the country is making progress in space technology, especially in remote sensing.

Sansa has completed South Africa’s first Remote Sensing Atlas, which will be launched in May. The 40-page atlas covers broad areas such as history of space technology, satellites, application of satellite images, geology, mining, agriculture, woody-cover mapping, water quality, urban planning, urban development and post-floods analysis.

The atlas has been developed to cater for a wide range of audience from high school students, tertiary institution students, government officials and the general public. It has been simplified in such a way that it is easy to understand while getting the message across.

Remote sensing is the art and science of collecting information about an object without being in physical contact with it.

Olwoch told the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) that the country is making progress in space technology with the institutions involved in remote sensing research and training achieving good progress.

“If you look at students who have achieved Masters in remote sensing applications and other systems using remote sensing, it is huge,” Olwoch adds.

“Look at the knowledge, technologies we have, it is extremely important. We also usually every year look at people who are serving on the user and the user server is increasing every year.

“It is extending from government departments to other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are coming up, using remote sensing as innovation and this is to build business, so we are really making good progress knowing that space technology is not cheap but the value that people are getting it is very commendable.”

The agency’s Research and Application Development Manager and also the Project Manager of the atlas, Dr Paida Mangara, said they had made significant progress and inroads, particularly in expanding the user bases in the country because it is not within the scientific realm only now.

“It is expanding to all the government departments; they are using it for special analyses including human settlements. The department for instance is using it for assessing all the changes which are happening within our urban areas for planning in electrification, if you look at (power utility) Eskom for instance,” Mangara added.

“So it’s significantly reducing the cost of doing ground service on the ground and if you look at the Department of Water Affairs, they are using our satellite images to monitor the condition of dams.

“If you look at the current drought which is occurring in the country at the moment, they are able to assess the impact of that drought looking at the quality of the water within the dams, the quality of the water within the dams, the Department of Agriculture can look at the crop conditions.”

Source: SABC