Mini satellite launched in SA for space weather research

South Africa is set launch a mini satellite from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in November to be used for collecting information on space weather.

The satellite dubbed ZACUBE-1, weighs 1.2kg and will be South Africa’s first nano-satellite that researchers from CPTU say utilizes the same power used by a 5-watt light bulb.

The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and is a result of 19 months of research and development by students and staff from the French South African Institute of Technology at CPUT.

Lead researcher Robert van Zyl described the nano-satellite as an evolutionary leap in space technology, while comparing it to Sputnik, the first ever satellite in the world to be launched into space back in 1957.
ZACUBE-1 is 84 times smaller than Sputnik, cost much less, and is small enough to fit on the palm of a human being!

Cape Times Newspaper reported that the satellite will travel to Russia and ultimately to space where it will be released from its pod. 10- Meter antennae will be deployed to send information to receiving stations at CPUT and the town of Hermanus near Cape Town.

ZACUBE-1, also known as CubeSat will operate for two to five years before it falls back to the earth and burn up in about 10 to 20 years from its launch date.

Weather satellites are used in getting a big picture of Earth’s cloud formations and by analyzing these patterns, meteorologists can forecast how these clouds will change and move, and predict the weather.

At the moment, Africa’s space weather is covered by MSG-3 weather satellite, the latest to join Europe’s Meteosat fleet in space controlled by European Space Agency (ESA). The satellite weighs 2000 kilograms and is designed to provide high-resolution images of Europe, Africa and the North Atlantic to help meteorologist generate accurate weather forecasts.

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