South Africa: SumbandilaSat – South Africa’s (SA) micro-satellite is living up to expectations, observes SouthAfrica.info report. It is providing high-resolution images frequently, capable of revolutionising local earth observation in various fields.
During August and September, SumbandilaSat produced five high-resolution images of the south-western part of the Kruger National Park and neighbouring Bushbuckridge, where the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and SA National Parks (SANParks) are conducting various research projects.
These images would have cost over ZAR 40000 (approx USD 6000) each from a commercially operated satellite, but SumbandilaSat is able to deliver such images, each covering an area of 50-60 kilometres, to local projects at no cost.
So far, the satellite has delivered 800 images of targets worldwide, of which approximately 54 percent have been cloud-free – translating to four images on average per day. Three to five images of southern African targets can be captured per week.
The SumbandilaSat images can also be used to map burnt areas, for example, in the Kruger National Park, where fire is part of the natural ecology and is used by SANParks as a management tool to manipulate vegetation to promote biodiversity and influence the balance between grass, shrubs and big trees.
Although the imaging capacity of SumbandilaSat is much less than that of commercial high-resolution satellites, the satellite has demonstrated the viability of affordable micro-satellite technology, which is its primary stated mission.
A constellation of similar satellites is planned to increase the availability of such satellite data for diverse applications. Several African countries will participate in this joint venture, and will eventually share in the data produced by the African Resource Management Constellation, especially for disaster monitoring applications.