Taking space to young minds


Around 69 000 bright-eyed budding scientists attended the annual Scifest Africa held in Grahamstown from 12 - 18 March this year. Exhibitors and sponsors included a growing number of organisations from across 12 countries.

The aim of SciFest, supported by the Department of Science and Technology, is to promote awareness and engagement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI). This year the theme was "Into the Space!" giving SANSA the perfect opportunity to get involved with the scientists of tomorrow. Many schools lack science resources and information, so the experience of SciFest gives students the opportunity to fill a gap in their learning and explore elements of science that they never knew existed.

SANSA was proud to host many of them at workshops and competitions designed to introduce learners to space, as well as being involved in FameLab.


FameLab is an international competition which encourages scientists to present exciting concepts in their fields to an audience, and 2014 is the second year of South African participation. Gladys Magagula, SANSA Mission Control Specialist, was a semi-finals judge in Gauteng, and Dr Sandile Malinga, SANSA CEO, helped to judge the final event where bright young experts from seven provinces represented South Africa’s most talented science communicators. Nine finalists put all their passion into their final talks, but Raven Motsewabangwe from North-West University blew the judges away. Raven captivated the audience by using an analogy of alien’s invading Earth to explain viral infections. He will represent South Africa in the international final in the United Kingdom in June this year.

Watch an overview of the FameLab finals on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4BSufg50NI


The workshops, run by SANSA staff, included Launch Day – which took learners through the launch and uses of SA's first Cubesat, TshepisoSAT. A Space Food Tasting workshop showed them what the first meals eaten in space were like – gloopy food packaged in tubes like toothpaste. Shutting off the sense of smell and sight helped the students get a feel for what food tastes like in space, where human senses are muted. A Mission Control workshop showed young audience how agencies like NASA communicate with the Mars Rover, and a session dedicated to EOSAT1 gave them insight into what Earth observation is used for, and why it's important. The Fundisa disk project, which is packed with remote sensing data for students and teachers, was demonstrated.

SANSA also hosted the popular satellite building competition for 30 Grade 6 learners. Vaughan Cuff from Moorehole Academy came first with his excellent satellite. Cuff said that he would like to build all kinds of different things in the future for space exploration, and ideally study architecture and engineering when he goes to university. He said that the satellite building completion taught him a lot about satellites and that it was the highlight of his time at SciFest.

Elisa Fraser, SANSA Science Advancement Manager, and her team organised the competition which was a resounding success, resulting in 30 unique interpretations of a model satellite.

SANSA wanted to have an interactive engagement with students this year, using the workshops and competition, but also Lego robotics at the stand and space weather screens to give learners a glimpse into the effects the sun has on our atmosphere.

The Sun attracted learners like Langa to the SANSA stand. A Grade 7 learner from Davidson School in Alice, Langa's name means Sun in Xhosa, and this has him curious about how the Sun affects Earth, how long it will continue to sustain life, and what it's made of. Langa wants to be a doctor or social worker, in order to help struggling families, and his interest in science is sure to help him – and curious learners like him – in their journey to success.






All hands on the new Earth observation satellite

SANSA teamwork for pioneering the next South African Earth observation satellite satellite

SANSA is gearing up to build South Africa's first major Earth observation satellite, with support from local industry and specialists at all SANSA directorates.

A mini-satellite (previously known as ZA-ARMC1) is being designed for low-earth orbit at 700km above the Earth. It will be dedicated to earth observation (EO) with applications, including vegetation monitoring, following extensive user consultation with government, universities and industry users by the SANSA Earth Observation team.

Design and planning for the satellite builds on South African expertise developed through the successful launch and operation of previous satellite missions including SunSAT, Sumbandila and TshepisoSAT (formerly ZA-CUBE1).

In addition to its core earth observation mission, the satellite is being used to develop South Africa's space engineering, science and technology skills, with a sizable portion of the budget dedicated to human capital development.

All SANSA directorates are playing a significant role in its development and operation, and are working closely with SA industry.

This satellite will be a flagship science and technology achievement for SA and a source of national pride as it marks SA's entry into the major league of space. (PULL QUOTE)

SANSA's Space Operations (Space Ops) team brings mission control experience and is advising on ground segment requirements. Space Ops will also support the satellite's launch, projected for 2018.

SANSA Space Science in Hermanus is looking for capacity on-board the satellite to host a science mission, and is guiding education, training and bursary programmes around the satellite's development. The SANSA Earth Observation team in Pretoria are defining the primary mission.

The ambitious new satellite will be assembled in the Western Cape over four to five years. With its high-resolution earth observation images and data, it will impact on every government department and every South African.


Welcome message from SANSA CEO Dr Sandile Malinga

It's been a little more than three years since South Africa's first space agency was formed. SANSA builds on decades of great work by many South African scientists and institutions, with fresh skills and new structures to compliment the old.

We are privileged to work in a sector which is so rich in science, research, technology and engineering - and which has such a huge impact. Our staff and peers are incredibly proud of what we do. We have the opportunity to develop the technology and services of the future, and to solve some of humanity's great challenges.

Looking ahead, the SANSA team strives to make a more meaningful impact on business, government and the lives of all South Africans. We will, in coming years, be helping to deliver vital services in communication, water, navigation, power distribution, security, environmental monitoring and farming. This is how we will demonstrate the role of space across society and our economy, and make every South African proud of what SANSA has to offer.

The four SANSA directorates all have exciting projects to tackle in the year ahead. Our Earth Observation (EO) team has done great work on the development of EO-SAT1, South Africa's first major earth observation satellite. Every single person at SANSA will be involved in this project, from scientists and engineers to switchboard, technicians, cleaners and accountants. The Space Engineering team will now define the technical requirements for this ambitious project.

SANSA launched the new FUNDISA product for learners in Grade 10 and above, and is also preparing to introduce new products for vegetation and land mapping. Read about SANSA's involvement in disaster management and human settlements on pages XXX and XXX.

The Space Science team have been busy with the installation of the new high-frequency radar in Antarctica under very difficult conditions. This enables us to continue to perform cutting-edge scientific research in space weather. The fourth directorate, Space Operations, supports international space missions to both the Moon and Mars, and has recently upgraded their Ka-band antenna, putting SANSA in a uniquely competitive position (read more on page XX).

You will find there are many things that you did not know that your space agency does and can do, and we hope this newsletter will get you as excited about South Africa's future in the space industry as we are.



GLAC 2014: SANSA CEO's Address

GLAC 2014 is bringing together the global satellite-based services community, including senior representatives of the major space agencies, industry, academia and NGOs. These leaders in their respective fields will converge in Paris to present results, exchange ideas, debate roadmaps, and discuss the future opportunities provided by satellite-based applications. For more info http://www.iafastro.org/events/global-series-conferences/glac-2014/

It is a great pleasure and an honour for me to have been invited to be part of the opening plenary of the Global Space Applications Conference.

I would like to thank IAF and UNESCO for arranging this important and relevant conference that will deliberate on the use of space applications in addressing humanity's challenges.

Today I would like talk about 'The irony of humanity's success and the potential contribution of space applications in adressing the associated challenges.'

Humanity has made great strides in many areas.

To understand this, we need to pause for a moment and think about how this morning would have looked like 50 years ago, 100 years ago, or a few centuries back.

Many of the things we take as standard today would not even have been dreamed of.

We would not have a gadget on our person in the form of a mobile phone, with the processing power, that supersedes that of a yesteryear computer which often occupied a sizable room.

We would still be relying of primitive implements for agriculturesuch as sickles. Today we have extensively mechanised agriculture and are using sophisticated farming methods, sophisticated irrigation techniques, genetically modified seeds, etc.

As a result, in the last 50 years global crop production has increased threefold. This has largely been as a result of two reasons. Firstly, higher yields per unit of land. Secondly, crop intensification from multiple cropping and/or the shortening of fallow periods. Today we are growing in excess of 2 billion tons of grain per year.

Calling young scientists


Enter FAMELAB 2014!

Are you passionate about your science? 

If you can excite, intrigue and entertain with a science, mathematics, engineering or technology concept in under three minutes then FameLab is for you. Improve your communication skills by entering and stand a chance to win a trip to the UK for the International Final!

Famelab 2014 .pdf



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