The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has launched the South Africa Space Weather Centre today at Hermanus in the Western Cape. Having completed the construction of the 24/7 space weather centre with the support of the Department of Science and Innovation, SANSA is set to avail new offerings, including space weather forecasting and alerts of harmful space weather phenomena, to South Africa and Africa at large.
The launch was witnessed by several dignitaries, including the Minister of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande; SANSA’s Acting CEO, Ms Andiswa Mlisa; the Managing Director of Space Science at SANSA, Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell; DG of the Angola Space Management Office (GGPEN), Dr Zolana João; and the Coordinator, Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency, Dr Pianos Gweme.
In his keynote address, Dr Blade Nzimande shared his joy to be a part of the historic launch of South Africa’s new 24-hour, state-of-the-art regional space weather centre with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in Hermanus, Western Cape province.
According to him, the launch serves as an illustration of South Africa’s excellence in science and a demonstration that the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), together with its agencies, continue to respond to the nation’s socio-economic challenges by leveraging science, technology and innovation as a catalyst for economic development.
In addition, Dr Blade reiterated the importance of SANSA’s Space Weather Centre for safety and security. “It is necessary to note that much like terrestrial weather, space weather results from a complex system driven both by the Sun and events much closer to Earth, and the impacts have a significant social and economic impact on Earth”, he said.
In 2019 SANSA embarked on a three-year project to move this Centre from its limited research and development focus to a full-focus 24-hour operational space weather centre dedicated to growing the nation’s science, engineering, technology and innovation sectors, offering opportunities to develop scarce skills and increase national research output, while ensuring that usable products and services are generated for the safety of the nation and Africa at large.
The Centre, the foremost regional space weather information provider, was constructed with ZAR 70.89 million from the Department of Science and Innovation and ZAR 36.6 million from SANSA. With the new facility, SANSA will be able to develop comprehensive expertise in space weather science and applications while providing cutting-edge services to commercial clients and development partners.
Furthermore, in 2021, South Africa, through SANSA, was selected as one of two ICAO-designated Regional Space Weather Centers – the other being a joint Centre by Russia and China in 2018. The implications of this designation meant that a full operational capability that meets the ICAO requirements needed to be put in place by 2024 as advanced research capabilities in the space weather field.
Kindly visit SANSA’s website to learn more about the Centre.
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