The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) was established in 2010. Following a period of rapid growth and transition the agency has made significant advancements towards addressing its mandate of deriving greater value from space science and technology for the benefit of South African society.

Newly NRF-rated researchers at SANSA

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

SANSA Chief Scientists, Prof Mike Kosch and Dr Michel Verstraete, respectively at the Space Science and Earth Observation Directorates, recently received a B rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in the areas of space science and Earth observation, both as first-time rated researchers. 

NRF ratings are based on research outputs and impact and aim to encourage researchers to publish their outputs in high impact journals, as well as impart cutting-edge skills to the next generation of researchers. Individual ratings are based on the quality and impact of research outputs over the past eight years as evaluated by local and international peers. The rating identifies researchers who are leaders in their fields of expertise and recognises those who constantly produce high-quality work.

According to Mike Kosch, an exciting new area of middle atmosphere research is the NRF-funded 'sprites' project. Sprites are optical gas dischargers in the atmosphere triggered by lightening. "Although reported on before, we have never seen them in Africa", says Mike.

SANSA is setting up a new, three-year experiment with a video camera system in a new optical station in a large, 6 m container at Sutherland. The intention is to make recordings during summer – the thunderstorm season in South Africa – by pointing the camera northwards to capture the elusive sprites that occur at high altitudes, well above the clouds. "Some lighting goes towards the ground and we need very large positive lightning strikes, which are quite rare."

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