JOHANNESBURG - South Africa had won an extraordinary victory in space science with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) being chosen to provide space weather information for the continent, the country's ministry of science and technology said on Monday.
Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said SA was selected by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to become the designated regional provider of space weather information to the entire aviation sector using African airspace.
"This means that every aircraft flying in the continent's airspace will rely on SANSA for the space weather information it needs to submit as part of its flight plan."
Kubayi-Ngubane said: "Space weather, which can influence the performance and reliability of aviation and other technological systems, is caused by the Sun, the nature of the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere, and the Earth’s location in the solar system.
"Space weather can lead to reduced signals from global navigation satellite systems, adversely affecting navigation, increased radiation, which can destroy human cells and tissue, especially during long-haul flights, and blackouts of high-frequency radio communications, which are critically important for the aviation and marine sectors."