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October 2009

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FROM THE PEN

Have You Heard?

If you are, as I am, somewhat challenged by the wonders of new science and technological advances, then South Africa’s launch of the low-orbit microsatellite, SumbandilaSat, is sure to intrigue even the most hardened non-scientific being.

We are all aware of the impact climate change has had on our seasons. Everyone, including SAICA, has recognised the need to go “green”, to some extent. There’s renewed vigor among environmentalists for recycling, using less energy, and the like. And so, with the launch of the microsatellite, what should concern us is the impact this satellite will have on sustainable development.

Minister Naledi Pandor assures us that the satellite, which orbits at about 500 km to 600 km above the earth, and which carries high resolution cameras, will give our country and region access to information that will help us make better decisions in terms of scientific and economic growth, and information to use for sustainable development, security and planning.

Eugene Avanant, Manager of Telemetry Tracking and Command at the CSIR Satellite Applications Centre explains that, because the microsatellite carries high resolution camera’s, it will produce images that can be used for agriculture, mapping of infrastructure and land use, population measurement and the monitoring of dam levels. He adds that, in terms of farming, the data acquired will help farmers monitor the condition of their crops, which surely can help farmers make strategic sustainable decisions. The microsatellite will also aid in the monitoring of air pollution and assist in the cleanup of the environment. In terms of sustainability, it will monitor, from time to time, whether we are making any difference and whether the environment is starting to recover.

The project, according to Kaizer Moroka, Deputy Director of Space, Science and Technology at DST says that SumbandilaSat is long overdue, and that, because it allows for the extraction of acquired data, the overarching impact on how we ultimately manage our resources will be greatly impacted.

What an amazing pathfinder this microsatellite is surely going to be. And the only thing left to do is encourage our members within the relevant sectors to monitor and use the data collected to make a real impact on the way we do business today.

Please look out for our combined December/January issue, as we will be delving much deeper into the issues surrounding sustainability.

Raina

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