LIVING ON 'THE ICE'

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

A wondrous world of hidden treasure awaits those brave enough to journey to the land of ice and snow. Antarctica, a land often described as the coldest, windiest, driest, least populated and most remote corner of the world, is not a place for the faint-hearted. Yet, those brave enough to journey there will forever have a deep connection to the icy wonderland.

SANSA's 2014 Space Science Antartic team left for the South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) IV base in Antartica on 5 December 2014. South Africa maintains a permanent research base there for scientists to participate in various research programmes. The SANSA team consists of researchers, engineers and postgraduate students who undertake space science research and monitor space weather from the base throughout the year, as part of the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) aimed at studying and monitoring the near Earth-Space environment.

Getting there – a world away

The 4 500 km journey to Antarctica begins aboard the SA Agulhas II research and supply vessel anchored at Cape Town Harbour. Three weeks of rough seas, delays and seasickness lie ahead before the ship reaches the Ice Shelf. All discomfort aboard the ship becomes inconsequential when you catch your first glimpse of some of the most spectacular sights you could imagine. Breath-taking views of icebergs and ice floats and unparalleled sunrises and sunsets compete for attention as you watch the local inhabitants – penguins, whales and seals – splash about in the icy water off the Ice Shelf.

 

Space Weather: A Risk to World Economy and Society

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

We often take for granted that the technology we have become so accustomed to rely on daily can be affected not only by weather on Earth but also by more extreme weather in space.

An extreme space weather event, or solar superstorm, is one of a number of potentially high impact, but low probability natural hazards. In response to a growing awareness by governments, extreme space weather now features as an element of national risk assessment in numerous countries.

Solar superstorms can have detrimental effects on the power grid, satellites, avionics, and aircraft over polar regions, High Frequency (HF) radio communication, mobile telephones and GPS systems, to name a few. Space weather has consequently been identified as a risk to the world economy and to society. In the UK solar storms are listed as the fourth most serious threat on the National Risk Register and are recognised as having a potential significant impact on the UK's critical national infrastructure.

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