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‘EO satellites beneficial for South Africa’

South Africa: Satellite earth observation helps South Africa to understand the state of natural resources, study the environment, manage natural disasters and provide warnings for regional droughts, floods and other disasters. Satellite earth observation information and data are also used to monitor illegal fishing and piracy in South Africa’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around its coast, said earth observation scientists.

South African National Space Agency (Sansa) Earth Observations MD, Dr Jane Olwoch and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Meraka Institute remote sensing research unit, senior researcher Dr Waldo Kleynhans spoke to delegates about the social benefits of space sciences at the South Africa-Japan space sciences colloquium earlier this month.

“Satellites are essential tools that are useful for society and can further our understanding of the environment, pollution, climate change and resources, such as water and land, as well as of the degradation of resources,” said Olwoch.

The use of earth observation products and services could enable sustainable use of the environment and increase innovation, she said.

“The importance of earth observation and remote sensing for environmental management and strategic planning is inadequately mainstreamed in national, provincial and local government, resulting in less use of available data. These data can be used, for example, to measure the growth of settlements and provide drought, flood and fire warnings as well as measure the state of our natural resources,” she added.

Meanwhile, Kleynhans spoke about the current applications of earth observation and remote sensing to monitor the EEZ around South Africa to curb illegal fishing and piracy and conduct sea rescues.

“Terrestrial radar shows only a fraction of the EEZ, and the monitoring of transponders on ships is not effective in finding illegal fishing or pirate vessels.”

However, by using synthetic aperture radar, a wide swath could be surveyed with a single overpass of a satellite, which enabled the detection of vessels by computational methods from the data generated by the overpass. The data is then matched to the transponder records to determine which ships do not have their trans- ponders activated, enabling naval forces to concentrate on these vessels, Kleynhans said.

Source: Engineering News