News Column

Nigeria Celebrates Three Years of Satellites Launch

August 19, 2014

Emeka Anuforo



THE National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA) yesterday insisted that Nigeria embraced space science and technology as a tool for scientific defence, security and socio-economic development of the nation, and not for pride.

The agency, which celebrated the third year anniversary of the launch of two earth observation satellites, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X, also announced that the nation was working seriously to acquire a Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite (SAR) to consolidate on the nation's inroad into the space world.

Director General of NARSDA, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, said at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the two satellites in Abuja that the Synthetic Aperture Radar, which he described as a higher capability satellite, would be projected before the end of 2015.

The proposal to procure the satellite, officials said, is to be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) soon for consideration and possible approval.

The User Systems Enterprises Incorporated of the United States of America describes Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite as one with special features.

Accordingly to information sourced from the organisation's website, "Beginning with the launch of SEASAT in 1978, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites have provided a wealth of information on such diverse ocean phenomena as surface waves, internal waves, currents, upwelling, shoals, sea ice, wind, and rainfall. The influence of man in the form of offshore facilities, ship transits, and other ocean-related events and artifacts is also observed from space using fine resolution SAR. Although aircraft-based imaging radar had been around since the 1960s, it was unable to provide the wide area global perspective and temporal coverage necessary to observe many ocean processes.

"Indeed, SAR is the premier sensor for the detection of such phenomena because it is sensitive to small surface roughness changes on the order of the radar wavelength (1m down to several centimeters). It is also independent of solar illumination and is generally unaffected by cloud cover. In addition, SAR has the advantage of providing control over such factors as power, frequency, phase, polarization, incident angle, spatial resolution and swath width, all of which are important when designing and operating a system for the extraction of quantitative information.

"SEASAT, launched in June 1978, was the first civilian SAR satellite. Since then, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Russia (the former Soviet Union) have placed SAR satellites in orbit for investigation and monitoring of both the sea and land surface."

Head of Corporate Communications at NARSDA, Felix Ale told The Guardian: "The satellite will enable the nation read any part of the country any time, any day with ability to penetrate the weather. You don't need to wait for weather. It is an earth observation.

Seidu said: "We are today celebrating the third anniversary of the launching of NigerSat-X, the most complicated and the most advanced engineering project ever done by Nigerian engineers and scientists.

"It is something that we are very proud of, and we believe that the ability to create wealth today and all the time depends on the efforts we make here, and being home to over 400 engineers and scientists, we remain a major constituency in Nigeria where we can do interventions and the problems of industries in creating solutions to problems and developing national food security and areas of need.

"In the last three years, through the two satellites, we have done major interventions. First, we made available images to over 18 universities, covering the entire country. That has supported several universities in their research endeavors. We have also been part of the international campaigns in various countries.

"Our satellite was part of the efforts to recover the missing Malaysian plane. Our satellite was also part of the mapping in the Amazonia basin, and part of the campaign over the desert in Saudi Arabia, and several other international disasters across the world. These are some of the major interventions done by Nigeria Sat-2 and Nigeria Sat-X that was designed and built by Nigerian engineers."

On how the satellite can assist in identifying the location of the Chibok girls, he said: "I have said it before, and we are still saying it, issues of security are important to us. We are patriotic enough. For most of you who are conversant with activities at our agency, we have a 25-year strategic road map for the development of space science and development. One communication satellite and two earth observation satellites have so far being launched in line with that plan.

"We want to make sure that the Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite, which we are discussing, is realized between now and 2015."

An expert in the industry, Prof. Ndubisi Ekekwe, stressed the need to make the nation's satellites more relevant to economic development.

He stressed: "The retail element of the Nigerian satellites has not necessarily being infused into our economy. I know that NARSDA is working very hard to make sure that Nigerians begin to utilize the investments of the Federal Government to do this. It is work in progress. This is not a finished product. It is something that they will continue to work on. Nigeria should be in a position, in a few very months to begin to appreciate and actually use this satellite."

President of the African University of Technology, Prof. Wole Soboyejo, urged NARSDA to engage stakeholders more. "As we celebrate the third anniversary of the two satellites, we look forward to serious integration of the development of space. Space research must address our needs."


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Source: AllAfrica


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