African space weather center provides 24/7 forecasts

December 16, 2022  - By

Image: South African National Space Agency

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) launched the South Africa Space Weather Center at Hermanus in November to provide real-time space weather forecasts. The space weather center detects space weather conditions such as strong solar flares that could disturb Earth’s magnetic field and severely affect ground-based electrical and electronic systems.

The space weather center collects data in real-time from solar satellites and a ground-based instrumentation network which consists of three kinds of sensors: GNSS receivers, magnetometers and an ionosonde system. Space weather conditions are then broadcast to South Africa and the rest of the continent to provide critical 24/7 space weather alerts for airlines, air traffic control agencies, telecommunications companies and satellite operators.

The International Civil Aviation Organization now recognizes the space weather center, as the launch filled the void in global space weather monitoring and 24/7 forecasting coverage.

SANSA received approval for the space weather center in 2019 and overcame many challenges during its development, such as limited funding for research, personnel, and equipment, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie was a managing editor at GPS World.