CAPE TOWN, April 15– Scientists at the University of Stellenbosch, about 50 km east of here, are fast gaining global respect amongst their peers for their ground-breaking work in space technology and the university has now been commissioned to build 15 satellite control systems by the European Space Agency (ESA) for one of its international projects.
The public research university is also currently building its own satellite, the ZA-AeroSat.
The university’s head of computer systems, Professor Herman Steyn, Monday described the involvement with the European Space Agency as history in the making.
“The project involves 50 small satellites also known as cube-sats, which weigh about two to three kilogrammes each. The idea of the 50 satellites will be to measure the content of the thermosphere, which is the upper layers of the atmosphere of Earth; the layers are between 200 kilometres and 380 km,” said Prof. Steyn.
Team member and PhD student Willem Jordaan said smaller satellites were the future in space research. “In the past few years, institutions have been developing smaller satellites (cube sats). These cube sats are the future,” he added.
“The work that we are doing at the university will be remembered for a very long time and will definitely be one for the history books. To be involved in a project like this one is a chance of lifetime. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.”