03 Nov Minister Blade Nzimande launches the SANSA Space Weather Capability in Hermanus
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, launched South Africa’s new 24-hour, state-of-the-art regional Space Weather Centre in Hermanus, Western Cape on Thursday, 3 November 2022.
The Department has made huge investments in establishing a world-class space weather capability that will not only benefit South Africa, but the rest of Africa as well. The Department’s entity, South African Space Agency (SANSA), developed the new centre. SANSA had been operating a Space Weather Centre for the past 10 years, with limited focus. It has worked on monitoring the sun and its activity and providing space weather forecasts, warnings, alerts and environmental data on space weather conditions.
“The operational capability has been developed over the past three years and, to date, the DSI has invested over R70,89 million for the establishment of the 24/7 space weather capability,” said the Minister.
“In keeping with its objective of supporting the development of a critical mass of skills and expertise needed to give effect to national space initiatives, SANSA supported 46 postgraduate students in key space science disciplines in the 202/21 financial year. A total of 2937 learners also benefited from SANSA outreach and space awareness initiatives.”
Early warnings and forecasts are crucial for protecting satellites, national power grids, communications and navigation systems from the harmful effects of solar storms and other space weather phenomena.
“SANSA joined the membership of the International Space Environment Service and contributed this service as the Regional Warning Centre for space weather in Africa,” said Ms Andiswa Mlisa, acting CEO of SANSA.
“The establishment of this capability includes infrastructure development, instrumentation deployment, product and service development, and capability development through an investment in the required skills. The establishment project commenced in October 2019 and is was completed on time and in budget by end of September 2022,” said Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell, Managing Director at SANSA Hermanus.
This development represents the value of science, technology, and innovation in building new applications and technologies in South Africa, and in solving global challenges through the research-to-operations value chain.