SANSA is host to the only Space Weather Regional Warning Centre in Africa that operates as part of the International Space Environment Service (ISES). SANSA’s Space Weather Centre provides an important service to the nation by monitoring the Sun and its activity to provide space weather forecasts, warnings, alerts, and environmental data on space weather conditions.
Space weather products and services are required primarily for communication and navigation systems in the defence, aeronautics, navigation and communication sectors. The Space Weather Centre offers products and services to both the general public and clients.
SANSA provides space weather information and training to South African clients. This information is used to protect a wide range of systems and technologies that may be affected by space weather, such as:
SANSA Space Science’s Applied Science and Magnetic Technology Services works closely with players in the local space industry to source and calibrate magnetic sensors for integration on board dynamic platforms such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones). SANSA’s facilities in Hermanus can characterise and calibrate magnetic sensors, as well as identify the magnetic signature of dynamic platforms prior to sensor integration. SANSA is recognised as a national expert in various magnetic technology applications.
Applied Science and Magnetic Technology Services provides calibration and maintenance of landing compasses; training courses in aircraft compass swing procedures; magnetic navigation ground support; geomagnetic data and field modelling; calibration and evaluation of systems containing magnetometers; acquisition, evaluation and calibration of magnetometers for space and other navigation applications; magnetic and electrical field measurements and management; support in degaussing marine vessels; and magnetic testing (e.g. RTCA DO-160G) according to international standards.
These services contribute significantly to the work of the navy, air force and army, and thus to the safety and security of all South Africans. In addition, SANSA Space Science offers technical and geomagnetic services to private aviation companies, neighbouring national airports, exploration companies, and the Hydrographic Office of the South African Navy.
SANSA’s Compass Swing Training Course includes a basic introduction to space physics and the influence it has on compass swing procedure; basic mathematics for the theoretical background of compass swing procedures; aircraft magnetism and its effect on aircraft compasses; the execution of compass swings; and practical training in the use of landing compasses.
SANSA operates a vast array of instruments across southern Africa and the Southern Ocean, the oldest of which has been in operation since 1841. These instruments have produced a staggering amount of data over the years. The South African National Geophysical Data and Instrumentation System (SANDIMS) provides a platform for receiving, archiving and distributing the extensive database from one central location. Data from any instrument in the network can be previewed and requested directly via the SANDIMS portal.
SANSA provides training in magnetic technology and space weather for the safety and security sector, from the basics of magnetic awareness (why the magnetic field is so important for the daily job of protecting the country), to specialised training (how the sector looks at itself and its equipment within a magnetised environment).
SANSA helps to meet the requirements of the South African Navy for more qualified marine compass adjustors in South Africa. The experienced workforce in this area will soon retire, and these skills are critical for protecting South Africa’s marine assets. Other important skills are compass base surveying and compass calibration skills, particularly for aviation technicians and pilots. SANSA provides this specialised training to the defence sector on an annual basis from its magnetically clean facilities.
The Space Weather Centre also offers training courses on space weather and its impact on technological systems and high frequency (HF) radio propagation, as well as on how to generate one’s own frequency predictions. The training provides a basic understanding of space weather and its significance, and how to mitigate space weather effects. Courses are tailored to suit client requirements and are hosted at SANSA in Hermanus or at a venue convenient to the client.